As artists, we constantly focus on the next gig and up-leveling our careers. There’s an abundance of pressure to succeed and achieve. We’ve heard the phrase “always be closing,” from the infamous 1992 film “Glengarry Glen Ross.” But what if we spun this sales strategy on its head with a different form of ABCs? “Always be curious.”
Our perspective automatically shifts when we lean into curiosity. This can be about a project, task, and even our careers. What feels like an impossible mission for a select few transforms into pure exploration. Let’s talk about how this could work.
A: Adopt a childlike innocence.
Remember the time when everything was new? Every day, we asked hundreds of questions whether aloud or in our minds. Regardless of size, each accomplishment as a child was a huge victory and the ultimate highlight of the day. We were fearless in our make-believe because the unknown became believable. In time, those feelings of wonder were replaced with responsibility and pressure to prove ourselves. Adulting comes with the struggle to be fully present, all the time. Obligations and distractions seem endless.
How do we return to that childlike spirit? One way is to ask more questions like an annoying 5-year-old asking “Why?” about virtually everything. Many of these inquiries are kept internal, otherwise, we’ll just be annoying everyone else. What would it feel like to be amazed by the simple things of life? Embrace nuances of each moment? When we return to this childlike amazement as adults, we start to relearn what it feels like to live in the moment. This fresh outlook further develops our artistic skills, particularly listening to others and our own inner monologues. We pick up on cues that shape our next steps rather than being tethered to our premeditated ideas of what we’ll say, do, or feel. Each moment is real, current, and truthful.
If this is challenging, spend time with the little ones you know. Children are masterful at embracing the present moment, paying attention, and even telling inconvenient truths.
B: Be brave and adventurous.
When we practice curiosity we reinvigorate some of that childlike awe and unstoppable nature. Let’s face it, adulting can be hard, and bringing a little levity to life can lessen the strain, both personally and professionally. Best-selling author and researcher, Brené Brown speaks of the value of curiosity, “Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.”
When we choose a new adventure, we may have great expectations but tend to be open to possibilities and surprises. The pressure to produce results is alleviated because we’re simply testing it out. We can uncover parts of ourselves that were buried under our stress and come to realize that our controlling nature has reeked more havoc than we thought. In this industry where decision-making is mostly out of our control, we vigorously try to control what we can as performers–branding, marketing, networking, and the list continues. These are overwhelming, often feeding into the “I’m not enough” belief.
What if we adventured into approaching our craft and career as a series of games? Treat each challenge or next step as an excursion or adventure rather than an insurmountable mountain climb. When it comes to game-playing, sure you want to win, but the real fun comes in the process leading up to that victory. We get to celebrate how far we’ve come. When the “floor is lava,” each leap gives you that dopamine boost to carry you into the next hurdle. The bravery of diving into the unknown, actual sweat, increased stamina, and patient perseverance are what make the game worth the pain and discomfort.
Enjoying the game makes the challenges easier.
C: Create something new.
This quarantine afforded many of us time to try new things— whether growing vegetables, making sourdough bread, or attempting to finish the entire Netflix library. Why not continue this journey of exploration with your artistry? Embrace a new hobby, learn an instrument, or adventure into a new language or accent. This new creativity could open a window or door previously unseen. Curiosity gives us permission to try to new things and see what resonates with our soul.
Writing has always been a passion of mine, but I only scratched the surface of writing for the screen. I needed to remind myself that every first draft is a brain dump and then editing takes over. The sweetest thing about this exploration was discovering a fire inside I never realized existed. The excitement of creating a world and its characters gave me the right amount of freedom to express myself.
As creatives, we’re empaths who feel the weight of the world. This world has put on some extra pounds in 2020, feeling exorbitantly heavy. However, through our creativity, we get to personalize the emotions that many humans feel. Through our catharsis in character, we help others see they’re not alone. We can help audiences think differently about their perspectives, educate them on new ways of thinking, and empower them to change not only themselves but the world around them.
When we dive into this new form of ABCs, our passion for curiosity and exploration not only liberates us but liberates others.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.