The shrinking apology is my goal.
That is, I want to stop apologising, especially in ways that cause me to shrink. See, I want everyone to know that I know my own faults before they judge me. For some reason, I think that they will judge softer when they know that this isn’t my best work, that I had a cold, that I know I could be better, etc, etc. But the truth is that I need to be able to stand by my work and expand my shrinking self.
I suppose in part this is because the very work we do as artists is vulnerable and exposed. And rather than feel exposed, I’d prefer to share a nice hard shell that is already justifying and defending any issues that could come up. “Ha, I know you aren’t going to like my work and here are three reasons why.”
This hard turtle shell exterior doesn’t help me though. In my own mind, it reinforces my smallness, my inadequacies, my failures.
So to counteract this I have been practicing just being out there, no excuses. Submitting self-tapes (auditions that you tape on your own and submit to a casting director directly or via your agent) with no apologies — such as — “well, I have other takes” “sorry for the lighting” “I could have done this differently” “it was early in the morning” “excuse my allergies” “I know the words aren’t perfect” “I could be stronger” “I can do it again” “sorry if this isn’t good enough” (the list goes on and on). At the moment, I usually write an email full of apologies and then re-read it, and hesitantly start editing out the apologies. Then I get my husband to read it and he edits even more!
I no longer want to shrink with every apology, so now I’m working on shrinking my apologies and though I feel more exposed, I am also telling my artist self that “I stand by your work. We may not be perfect, but we are trying our best and can be proud of what we share.” This is where I am at. Recognizing when I am apologising and belittling myself is a huge step. Editing it out of my emails and conversation and body language is the next step. And after that is celebrating my imperfect offerings and standing by them with pride. Whooeee, that feels scary! It also feels empowering and enables me to take more artistic risks. After all, it is those very imperfections that make us unique. That make us, well, perfect.
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Copyright 2017 Anna Nugent