Yesterday I had an opportunity to speak at length with one of my students. For the purpose of this blog entry, we’ll call him John. This young man originally came to me one year ago for guidance in moving his performing career forward. Over this past year, we have discussed many things about performing. In addition to music business mentoring, I have also become his vocal coach via Skype. John is very talented and ambitious.
John indicated to me about 10 months ago that he had been feeling down-hearted. Though he was getting good work as a performer, he was not getting the caliber of work that he wanted. He was feeling quite discouraged and was considering going back to school to develop new skills that would take him in a different career direction. While I am always in favor of students getting more education, I felt that this was not simply an issue of career path. I felt that there was something more at the core of John’s dissatisfaction.
During our early conversations, he opened up and shared that his life was lack-luster and that he was waiting for that special “thing” to come along and brighten up his world. Two years ago, John relocated to New York City (where he currently lives). He was married at the time of his move, but has since become divorced. Though he has won several off Broadway roles, he’s disappointed that he has not been able to get the Broadway roles that he’d like. He has allowed his mis-fortunes to take all of the joy from his life.
It’s very easy, particularly in the music/theater/entertainment business, to become depressed after a bad audition or performance. Our “product” is so closely associated with ourself. Our “product” is ourself! We are putting ourselves “out there” to be adored or criticized. While adoration has its pros and cons, criticism can be devastating. Particularly when it is not constructive. Hearing “no” time and time again after an audition is tough to take and John was having a really touch time.
I have gone on many unsuccessful auditions in my life. When I first started out, I would feel horribly for days on end after an unsuccessful audition. However, it soon occurred to me that if a plunged myself into something that would make me feel good about myself, I might be able to get over the bad feeling more quickly. Volunteering had always been something that I had enjoyed from childhood, so I searched out some volunteer opportunities that interested me and began volunteering my time. These hands-on volunteer tasks involved working with children, seniors and other groups. I loved it and became fully engaged with the people that I was serving. I also developed wonderful friendships with my fellow volunteers. This made me happy. It took my mind off of my audition woes and allowed me to focus on something positive.
I shared this story with John early on in our working relationship. Yesterday John told me about some volunteer projects that he has taken on and how much they have lifted his spirits.
No matter what kind of work you do, it’s important to find the things that can keep your life balanced. I have a lawyer friend that plays his guitar for groups of young children when things become overwhelming. A physician friend does laps in the pool with disabled adults to decompress. We all need to identify the thing(s) that help us forget ourselves and our problems. It’s up to us to make every effort to control our mental and emotional state. We can’t look for that external force to make us happy. We must learn to create our own happiness.
Create Your Own Happiness!