The Problem With Perfect
We all know the odds in this business, and they are not greatly in our favor. But what happens when you begin to hold yourself to a standard higher than the odds may allow? I've been wrestling with this lately, and I go back and forth between being proud of my high standards, and wondering if I should ease off a little, and cut myself a break sometimes.
As I've mentioned in earlier posts, the train is never an easy thing to navigate with a small child, so my audition warm-up consisted of hauling 60 pounds worth of child, stroller, diaper bag, snacks, and a purse into Manhattan. I'm getting good at this though, so hear me ROAR!!! And by "getting good", I mean I've mastered a pathetic face that engenders enough pity to get a helping hand with the stairs. Or I stare at my stroller looking perfectly clueless as to what I should do with it and the child inside until someone comes over and says, "Do you want help with that?"
After this shameless song and dance, I meet up with my friend, who heads to the park with my son while I ride the elevator to my audition, arriving with plenty of time to center myself and focus on the task at hand.
The part had no dialogue, just a simple activity. Ultimately these are basic acting exercises. Should be a no-brainer. Prepare your moment before, take a deep breath and wait until you're ready to begin, allowing the action to come to you organically. But on that day I rushed it a bit, and didn't feel as though I delivered exactly what I was capable of. It wasn't bad, but I just didn't get that feeling of having nailed it.
I left the audition and headed to the park to collect my son. He and my friend had counted dogs and talked to a pigeon for an inordinate amount of time, according to her. "The weird thing is, I think the pigeon was actually listening", she reported. I laughed, and the audition receded a little further from the forefront of my mind. It was nearing nap time and we still had lunch and a train ride back to Brooklyn, so I said a quick goodbye, grabbed a sandwich, and headed for the train, preparing my clueless gaze, which was unsuccessful for our return trip down the subway stairs.
When my husband asked about the audition I replied, "It was ok. I don't think I nailed it."
"Ah, well, on to the next one!" he replied.
And that is the correct response, of course. But I couldn't muster it myself. I thrive on the feeling of having done my best, and so I kept asking myself what is the point if I can't nail it every time? I considered taking a break from auditioning while I take some classes to increase my "nailing it" ratio, lest I risk anyone else seeing a less than stellar performance. If I were a business, and I am, that is what you do. You take your product off the market, and look for ways to improve it. But in this particular business you also have to be able to let an audition go and move on to the next. You learn by putting yourself out there and giving it your best shot. You do what you can to get better, but know that you won't be the best every time. Some days it just isn't your day.
So I say this as much to myself as anyone else: Take a risk, try to shrug it off when you stumble and vow to improve yourself for the next opportunity, but don't ever let "perfect" become the enemy of GOOD.
(*(A "super friend" is any friend who helps me with babysitting. Agree to lovingly care for my child for a couple hours, and you too can become a "super friend".)
(Photo by Cathryn Lundgren)