The actor’s job is never easy. Besides being in the constant scrutiny of the public eye, the actor has to frequently deal with his own insecurities, fears and vulnerability in his work.
Getting in their own way is a common pitfall for actors, as they give themselves (or their directors) excuses as to why they are unable to make a choice, try a suggestion or bare their soul to the audience. And sometimes, this self-limiting defense mechanism extends to their outlook towards their career, causing them to interpret rejection and criticism as failure. The consequences are crippling.
If you find yourself getting in your own way, stop. Some adjustments in perspective can prove to be motivating, preparing you better to survive in this competitive and demanding industry.
Know that it is never going to get easy.
This includes making it as an actor and making good work. Acting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. You will always find yourself having to look for jobs; you will always have to audition and, possibly, experience rejection; you will always need to make new connections with people you meet. The best works are the ones that involve risk, where the actor has to show vulnerability and be able to press on despite frustration and failure. Simply put, you will (or should) feel emotionally, mentally and physically spent. It will never get easier, only harder. Yet, that makes the sense of accomplishment so much better.
Know that it is better to do something than to complain.
With a job this crazy, it is easy to fall into the habit of complaining. The industry is not perfect, but then again, it’s not realistic to expect perfection. Instead of complaining, do something – anything, to improve your career or the circumstances of the project you are working on. Do something so that the work can always go forward. You’ve accepted that this would be tough, so accept it and make it work.
Know that you must be proud of your career.
If you don’t take pride in your own work, then why should anyone else? Despite all the social stigmas against acting (“get a real job”, “your ego is too big”) there is really nothing wrong with being an actor. You need to find meaning in what you are doing if you want people to respect you for your work. Stop being embarrassed. It will lead to fear and limit your capacity to try. You will only end up shunning opportunities and ultimately sabotaging your own career.
Know that you don’t have to care about what other people are doing.
You are not there to compare yourself to others. There will always, always be someone else better than you. After all, “being the best” (or feeling like that) is a very dangerous position to be in, because then you will lose the drive to learn. And really, what point is there in practicing your craft if you cease to learn? On the other hand, when you acknowledge that you will never be the best, you are free from the burdens of perfection. You learn to accept rejection, take criticism in your stead, and approach your work with a sense of fervor and liberation.