I had a student I was teaching in Australia recently who had a watershed moment in his acting. And it did create a watershed…. Being vulnerable might do that to you.
He realized that he’s been “acting”—meaning self-generating—rather than simply being, and allowing, himself to be affected in the work. He realized that it’s safer to put on a “character”—if even ever so subtly—than to face the truth that if you allow yourself to be in the work totally, it might mean that you yourself can be rejected for it.
In other words, there’s no hiding.
So he tried to protect himself by “pretending.” But all that does is create artificiality in his work.
Light bulb: You will be rejected. For sure, lots of times, for being who you are. That’s the risk you take being fully invested in your own life—in love, in acting, in dancing, in putting yourself out there, in painting. in singing, in all forms of creating.
You are constantly revealing who you are and giving a part of yourself away in everything you do, and that might mean that some people just won’t get you or like you or be interested in you or respond to you.
So what? You’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for yourself. And when you really start to live in that truth, you won’t care what other people think because there’s no greater gift than giving of yourself, with the risk that in doing so you might be rejected. That’s called life, and it’s why we’re here.
It also leads to another conversation I had with a New York actor. He said he was scared of failure. No, he’s not. We fail every day. Our lives are littered with failures. So we’re not really scared to fail. We’re afraid of being seen, because being seen—just as this Aussie actor realized—carries with it the risk of rejection and not doing it “right,” and being imperfect and showing people who we really are, and consequently, having people not liking us.
What we’re really scared of is our success. How powerful we can be, and also how magnificent and beautiful and competent and talented we already are.
We’re scared of success because counter-intuitively, it means, once again, with success comes the possibility that we may get rejected or not liked on a grand scale. It means putting our private selves out there in a very public way. It means stepping into a new you—and a whole new paradigm—that our egos are invested in keeping from us.
Success equals overcoming the dialogues in our heads that tell us all the reasons we aren’t, and can’t be, a success.
That’s success right there. Facing our destructive dialogues to prove otherwise. And to step into the possibility that it is better to attempt, to risk, to be seen, and to fail than to not be seen at all.
What would the world be like if you weren’t seen at all? Ask yourself that.
It would be a very sad place. We need you. Remember that the next time you think you’re scared to fail.
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Vancouver. It was honored by Backstage three years in a row and named the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read).
Meindl's first feature film, “Birds of a Feather,” won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2012 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and he won Best Director at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. It releases on iTunes and DVD in March of 2014. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Love, Backstage, and various spirituality podcasts. He has been featured in ABC News, Daily Variety, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and CW KTLA. He has been a guest speaker at the GATE 2013 Story Conference, founded by Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle, and David Lynch's Masters in Film Program (Maharishi University of Management).
He is also the author of the best-selling creativity book, At Left Brain Turn Right, which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Check out Meindl's free smartphone app on iTunes. Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.