I love “Mad Men,” and one of my favorite quotes from that show is said to Don Draper by an ex-lover. “I hope she knows, you only like the beginnings of things.”
Similarly, it’s easy to be enthusiastic about acting when you are first getting started, but how can you avoid feeling jaded and bitter down the road? When you lose your enthusiasm, you lose everything. Here are some ideas to keep it going.
1.Watch well-made film and television. Do it just for the enjoyment of it. Remember when you were very young and you just couldn’t wait to watch your favorite program on TV or go to a movie theater on the opening weekend of the film you waited months to see? Sometimes when you’ve been in the industry too long, you forget about the love that brought you there in the first place. Just as with a long marriage, it’s good to rekindle that love. And when you do watch something and you keep saying, “I could do better than that actor,” it might be time to take a long break and reconsider your goals. Envy and frustration are not great traits to have as an actor. They will eat you up inside, and we need you to stay positive.
2.Have hobbies not related to the business. This is the toughest aspect for me. My hobbies are watching TV and films. I enjoy watching movies in a movie theater more than anything. This is not healthy. Acquiring outside interests, such as gardening, fitness, baseball, etc., will help take your mind off your troubles when the going gets tough…and the going will get tough.
3.Have a place of worship. Be it a mosque, church, synagogue, yoga center, temple, what have you, you will live more enthusiastically if you belong to a community of folks who believe in more than just the self. If you don’t communicate with a positive entity greater than yourself, you will get lost. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.
4.Seek therapy in hard times. When you become despondent, hopeless, feeling like you want to quit the business and run away from your life, and these feelings last more than a week, seek therapy. Being in therapy is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of great strength. Asking for help is the hardest thing one can do, but it must be done if you are trying to sustain a positive outlook. Believe me, you’ll feel better immediately. And you can’t use lack of funds as an excuse, as there are good options for therapy even for low-income individuals.
5.Don’t let your angst get in the way of feeling joy. Being an artist of any kind is a two-sided coin. On one side, we experience feelings of angst, pain, and worthlessness usually coupled with a large ego. These feelings can be positive as they help us be sensitive and compassionate towards our fellow human beings. The other side—the light side—is optimism, hope, and joy. As with everything essential for our survival, balance is the key, and when our dark side is out of whack, enthusiasm gets drowned out. Don’t let this happen to you.