Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

Photo Source: Photo by Swaraj Tiwari on Unsplash

As humans, we strive for perfection in so many ways that it’s a little disturbing when you step back and look at it: We want the perfect body, skin, kids, pets, house, clothes, attitude, test score, moment, furniture, electronic device, car, get it. We drown in it, yet we know that “perfect” isn’t a real thing.

And the real kicker is that when you strive for perfection, you often kill creativity with fear.

Actors: Beating yourselves up to get to some subjective idea of the “perfect” career is doing more harm than good as it often leads to crushing your creativity with your fear of failing to achieve that “perfection.” You either give up before you start because you know the first time out of the gate won’t be perfect and you can’t stand the thought of not succeeding on the first try, or you mentally beat yourself up as you try over and over and over again.

Both of these routes are forms of self-sabotage rooted in fear. So instead of holding onto a subjective idea of what a perfect acting career is, why not try something radical for a change? Let’s stop, listen, and most importantly, be kind to ourselves. A little self-love can go a long way!

It wasn’t until I let go of this idea of attaining the “perfect” acting career that I really began to fly. Rather than look at it as a feat to overcome, I started to see my life as an actor like that of a doctor or athlete—a practice. When they’re not playing official games, athletes literally attend practice to work on their skills and improve. And what is a doctor’s office called? A practice! Actors are no different.

When you’re striving for perfection, you’re demanding too much of and inflating yourself. Writers don’t write about perfect people because it would be boring to watch. Instead, they write about the messiness of life because messes are beautiful and interesting and compelling and they make you want to root for them.

Just try once to be a mess. Forget perfect—that’s boring. Work through your “mess” and write down what you’re feeling, thinking, and experiencing. Through these notes, find a freedom (a technique) for your acting. This will take some effort and that’s ok! You’re prone to not failing and a lot of this may feel like failure, but know that it’s a process and a practice, and it will take time.

Instead of giving up the first time it feels messy or uncomfortable, give yourself a moment to realize that you’re working through and toward something potentially amazing. And open your mind and heart to the mess. After all, messes are beautiful. Embrace them.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Melissa Robinette
MelRob was born into the circus and constantly works as an actor. She started putting together, advertising, booking, and negotiating her own contracts for her one-woman show at age ten, complete with self-facilitated costume change. The Biz of Show came about from her circus family, where there is a systematic way to run your biz. In 2012, MelRob was elected the Eastern Vice President of Actors Equity.