“Stay out of the court of self-judgment, for there is no presumption of innocence.” – Robert Brault
Self-judgment is not a good look. Self-judgment sucks, y’all. It not only eats at us, but it also then causes us to project our own insecurities onto others. If you’re a mere mortal human like myself, the act of self-judgment is an ongoing struggle. If you’re an artist or in any type of creative profession on top of that, then I suspect you’re often dealing with self-judgment in ways that many will never understand.
Something you’ll learn very quickly about me: I am a recovering perfectionist, which is born out of my desire to please please please. This has affected my artistic career in several ways, including this one peculiar audition that I’ll never forget.
Ah, I remember the audition like it was yesterday.
I walked into the audition room with a big smile, genuinely happy and excited to be there. It was a nervous excitement for sure, because i was about to sing for a casting team that had just cast me in my last show. The normal pressure of impressing them didn’t apply here; it was the type of pressure where I wanted to prove to them that it wasn’t a fluke, I really was good.
I had practiced my two songs several times, and wavered between two keys for one of them. I’m a belter and my voice generally shines when I am singing on the higher side, so I chose the higher key and crossed my fingers.
Well, I started singing and immediately regretted my decision. It wasn’t terrible, but I always have high expectations for myself in the audition room. I wasn’t as “on” as a I had hoped and started judging myself HARD CORE. It was not fun being in my head that day.
When you’re in the room in a situation like that, suddenly the casting and creative teams start looking very intimidating. I was telling myself horrible things in my head, even though I looked super confident and like I wasn’t even phased. It was the total opposite.
I never stopped beating myself up about it. Until three days later. I got a callback. Then I got another callback. Then I booked the part. Then we did the reading. Then the workshop. Then the show…at the acclaimed Kirk Douglas Theatre.
What the what?!
Yeah, that seriously happened. I crossed off a bucket list item (performing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre) because of that audition that I thought was so horrible!
I know that most actors, if not all, have been in this situation. I’ll go a step further and say that most artists have been in similar situations, with audition room self-judgment horror story equivalents.
Here is what I learned from this experience:
STOP F*CKING JUDGING YOURSELF
Your work is never going to look perfect to you, even when it’s really, really good. We are our own worst critics. Leave the judgment to the people who are there to judge the work, for better or worse. They will ultimately decide for themselves.
STOP MAKING THINGS UP
If you don’t know something for sure, don’t assume that it’s true! If the casting director had an unpleasant look on his/her face, he/she could be reacting to several things that do not even concern you. Hell, he or she could have an upset stomach and be trying to hold in a fart. It’s not always about you.
Several factors go into judging your work. If you’re an actor in a show, you are but one bitty piece of the equation. The puzzle pieces must fit together. Sometimes, you may have nailed it, but someone else was just a better fit, so don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t get the job.
THE ONLY THING YOU CAN CONTROL IS YOUR ACTIONS
Just show up for yourself and then let it go. You are truly only in control of your actions. That’s it. It is up to you to practice your lines and songs, to be on time, to have your material, and have a positive attitude. After that, it’s out of your hands.
LEARN HOW TO LEAN IN AND THEN LET GO
Lean in to the work and be present when you’re at the audition or interview, and then leave it there. Walk out the door and keep it moving. There is definitely an art to “letting go” and you have to make it a habit of finding the balance between caring enough to present good work, then saying f*ck it. Onto the next!
I have several stories of how I auditioned for something, never heard anything back, thought it was all over, and then a year later, was contacted by that casting team and offered a role for a different project. Such is the story for a lot of actors. It’s important to put your best foot forward, no matter what you think the outcome will be, since you can never be sure what’s going to happen.
Even when you put your best foot forward but really feel down due to a mistake– flubbing on words, wardrobe malfunction, voice crack, whatever– know that it’s not the mistake that will define that moment, but the manner in which you handle it. This leads me to the last thing I’ve learned that helps me to stop self-judging.
TAKE THE WORK SERIOUSLY, BUT NOT YOURSELF
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve messed up in auditions. I’ve come to terms with the fact that auditions are not going to be perfect. They are an amazing opportunity to not only demonstrate your talent, but also your personality! Sometimes, you just gotta have a little fun and enjoy the moment.
How do you deal with self-judgment after auditions and interviews? Let me know in the comments.
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