Anxiety can be a royal pain in the bum!
I think we can all agree on that.
It can be an even bigger pain in the bum when you’re a performer; when your sole living relies on being able to hold yourself together when under pressure or when nervous.
My anxiety constantly holds me back, especially when it comes to auditioning. It makes me breathless, it makes me doubt myself, it makes the blood rush out of my arms and to my heart, to keep me alive – meaning that I literally can’t move my hands. Yep, my body’s initial response is wholeheartedly ‘flight mode‘.
I’ve struggled to sleep well this contract, mainly due to my anxiety. I spent the other night unable to sleep due to strong heart palpitations because I was nervous about my understudy run the next day. And it’s not the first time I’ve had this in the last couple of months.
Sometimes I wish I could take my brain back to a time when I wasn’t afraid to sing because of other people’s opinions. To a time when I didn’t overthink my voice and things such as placement; when I would just sing and let it happen and it was easy. When I wasn’t afraid.
Drama school is beneficial as a performer as it teaches you ways to preserve your voice and body to have a long career. It also opens your mind to many different genres and aspects of the industry you may not have known about before, and develops the skills you are weaker in.
But I feel like the one thing that it is un-beneficial for is how it teaches you to live within your casting box. You learn what your casting ‘type’ is, you compare yourself to the people around you and try to match them, and when you can’t match them you feel like you are a failure and will never work, and you are set standards that ‘Broadway’ or the ‘West End’ is the main goal.
But what if I don’t want to play the princess roles, just because I have blonde hair?
What if I can’t screlt a top C but can belt a solid E and tell you a story while I sing?
What if I never get to the West End, but I’m happy working on a Cruiseship? Does that make me a failure?
This industry trains you to doubt yourself and be afraid to step away from your ‘type’ for fear of taking a wrong step. Even down to changing your hair colour!
So yesterday when I stepped up for my understudy run, my anxiety risked crippling me. I was worried about messing up a move, about not sounding as epic as the girl who normally plays these roles, and about people judging my abilities as a performer.
You always put yourself out there for judgement as a performer, but at the end of the day all you can do is get up there and accept yourself and what YOU can do. Only then will you feel proud of what you do, despite what anyone else thinks.
Anxiety is caused by doubting yourself and your ability to cope in a situation. It’s always worse in your own head than in reality, and once you’re ready to turn on ‘fight mode‘ instead of ‘flight mode’, you leave fear at the door and do nothing but soar.
So here’s to stopping questioning your abilities and just enjoying whatever comes your way!
And here’s to dying your hair without worrying whether it’s ‘casting-appropriate’!
PS. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing princesses!