We signed up to work in a pretty crazy industry. As rewarding as being an artist is, it can also be quite stressful. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the workload or become disheartened and depressed by things not working out the way we planned. An important part of being an artist is the ability to be vulnerable, yet at the same time, be thick-skinned and able to take rejection, criticism, and failure. However, if we are not in a good headspace this can be quite difficult. That’s why it is so important to be taking care of our mental health.
I find writing and acting can be quite therapeutic. We have a rare opportunity in our profession as storytellers to take pain and discomfort and turn it into something beautiful. That being said, in order to give one hundred percent to our work, we must be operating at one hundred percent in our day to day lives. This means not neglecting ourselves and constantly checking in with our thoughts and emotions to ensure we are in the best possible space to do the work.
I find actors and artists in this industry are generally pretty good at taking care of their physical health. We know that you have to be in tip-top shape, eating right, staying active, and doing our best to get some sleep every now and then, but when it comes to taking care of our minds and spirit, we are often neglectful. It is important to take some time for yourself. Do something other than work that brings you joy. Try some meditation. Check-in with your emotions and be honest about what you’re feeling and why. One of my teachers in film school told us we should do at least one thing every day that is good for our mental health, our spiritual health, and our physical health, and that is something I always take with me.
There are lots of dry spells in the arts. One moment you are searching for any lead possible, and the next, every second of your time is filled with a variety of different projects you are working on. One thing they teach you is never to say no. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by. This is true, but you should also not sign onto something if you are unable to give your full attention and effort to it.
As a producer, I can say how frustrating it can be when someone agrees to work on a project only to pull out at the last minute or do an inadequate job. Of course, unexpected things happen in life, and we all have to adapt accordingly, but never fill your plate with more than you can handle or all you’ll do is let others down as well as yourself.
I find this one difficult. It seems every time you create something, you are immediately faced with people tearing down the project, you, and your ideas. Of course, there is constructive criticism that can help you grow, but there is also an endless stream of negativity that lives on the internet. It’s easy to allow others’ hurtful comments to tear you down, but I just try and focus on the work. While they are spending all their time trolling in the comment section, you can either let that affect you and consume your thoughts and time, or simply brush it off and keep going. Not everyone is going to like you or what you do, and everyone has an opinion, but remember you can’t please everyone. All you can do is continue to make the best quality projects you can and just keep hustling.
It took me a while to learn this one, but once I did, it changed how I approached almost everything my life. You can’t control how others will view your work. You can’t control whether or not you get the job or the role. The only thing you can control is always doing your best, taking care of yourself, and always being professional and courteous.
Do all the work you can before a pitch or an audition, and then once it’s over, let it go. Worrying about how things went won’t change the outcome. Of course, you should learn from your mistakes and be honest while critiquing your work and performances, but you should celebrate your wins and not dwell on your losses. When something good happens, take a moment to really enjoy that, and if something bad happens, learn from it, dust yourself off and keep going.
You’re out there working and learning from your mistakes so you can be better tomorrow. I got a tattoo that says, “Everyday is a new beginning” because it reminds me that no matter what happened today, tomorrow is a new start. It is inevitable that you will fall while trying to make it in this industry, but as Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Focus on the future, the next project you’re working on, the next thing you’re excited about, and let go of the negativity and hardships holding you down.
The entertainment industry is ever-changing. One second, you’re on top of the world, the next one you’re hitting rock bottom, but you just have to keep going and remember that everyone’s journey is different. Just keep doing you. We have the best jobs in the world. Yes, it can be stressful and difficult, but just remember the passion and joy that got you into this business in the first place, and most importantly, remember to breathe.
Jess Parker is a writer, producer, actor, and filmmaker from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She is the founder of Indie Nerd Films and has experience both in front of and behind the camera in both the Calgary and Vancouver arts sectors. As a true cinephile, Jess loves to watch, review, discuss, and passionately rant about each and every film she sees. With strange eclectic tastes and often speaking more in movie quotes and obscure references than actual sentences, film is the centre of her world, and not just because she is in the industry, but because of the undeniable passion and love she has for the art form.
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