This past audition season got you down? It totally had me down. I felt lost in a sea of auditions, pushing hard...but not really making an impact. One day in Actor Therapy, I wrote a whole entire bullet-pointed saga of notes to have a discussion during my class slot with my teachers about a life block I was going through. The main thesis was this: “I love musical theatre, but I know I am hitting a wall energetically and I need to approach my career differently in order to do my best.” Then a dear teacher said, “Well I don’t think someone going through a tailspin would make notes about it.” HA! Obviously he doesn’t know about my specialized, Type A, Alden Gagnon *branded* tailspin. Then, the other dear teacher said, “You know, Alden, your options aren’t just to go at 120% or 0%. Sometimes pushing just to 80% helps get the work done consistently.”
I was so bone tired that I needed to take a little moment to properly reset, but I know that I need to start going more at a measured pace to be in this for the long game. I asked myself the question “What would somebody who loves themselves unconditionally do?” My answers was just to stop and allow myself to be, not beat myself up for not going to loads of auditions or “not doing enough.” Thusly, I just got back from a forced self-retreat in the Hudson River Valley because my two life options were basically get out of the city or... have a nervous breakdown. I think that is something in our busy *push push push* culture that we can really let out mental, physical and emotional health slide under the table. So how to we move forward in our career choices while consistently taking care of ourselves?
RSO always says do one thing a day that furthers your career. I think this is a great mindset & life commitment. Today, that looked like going to Actor Therapy & submitting to auditions for half an hour. Tomorrow, I will take two dance classes. However, what we don’t need to do is go to a 5am open call, then have a voice lesson, run to a dance class, and close out the 12 hour sprint with writing hand-written postcards to casting directors--we will just get tired and burn out! (Please note I have done all this in a day and I can attest it was exhausting & unhealthy.) It is more important to go to the calls that speak to you, and then do your best there because your voice isn’t fatigued.
Last audition season, I went to auditions four days in a row & had a bunch of dance classes. The last audition I had during this maddening streak was on Valentine’s day and in the room I could just FEEL myself doing a nosedive IN THE ROOM. I didn’t have the emotional energy to be able to commit to my acting choices, and my voice resembled a goat screaming because I was so tired. I stayed positive & upbeat in the room, but I knew there was no way I was getting a callback. I decided to take a few days to rest (did lots of yoga, slept, focused on work) and on the 18th I auditioned again. This time it was for an Off-Broadway show--I was energized & ready to nail the audition. I ended up booking the job without a callback and got to perform over the summer at a great Off-Broadway theatre. THIS was because I had given myself a chance to rest, recuperate, and realign to really crush and share my full, authentic self in the audition room. Cause we can’t do our best when we are stressed!
We all need to make money, call our mom/other loved ones, take time to sleep, and live a balanced lifestyle. If we are hustling all day, every day, we won’t be able to be in this industry for the long game. If you resonate with this, you ARE a hard worker. Taking our foot off the gas and slowing down often serves us more as actors & humans than just continually pushing.
I was just texting a friend who recently moved to the city, and this is her first audition season. She went to not one, not two, but three open calls in a DAY and got sick soon thereafter. I was talking to her about this exact topic and she said “Honestly you’re so right, I just keep getting caught up in the ‘but what if I miss ~THE CALL~?’ and then don’t get cast all season.” And I admitted that those thoughts pop up for me, too! But the truth is we are all hard workers & we will definitely go to enough auditions. Better to do a great job & get a callback at 1 or 2 auditions than to be an overly emotional, hot mess at 5 auditions. If dance class is what is gonna bring you joy for the “career betterment” part of your day, then do that and take some time to recover! And she wrote back, “Ya know, I think I need to take dance class instead tomorrow for my personal joy and let that audition go.”
So, fellow hard workers of the world, (cause if you’ve gotten this far in the article, I assume you are one): It is okay to practice things that help relieve stress. In fact, it is great because it will help you be better at what you love to do! I practice yoga, make sure I get 8 hours of sleep a night when I can, move my body daily, spend time with my dog, talk to my loved ones on the phone, and use crystals to bolster my energy. People have different ways of relieving stress like meditating, knitting, going to therapy, eating lots of leafy greens, or listening to music. Bottom line is, it is totally okay to take time for you. PLUS it is totally okay to *not be okay* or be stressed out and then to acknowledge that! The time that we take to fill up our own cups with self care and prevent burnout is an investment in ourselves AND our future jobs (of many!) to come. I hope these anecdotes resonated and inspired you to take time to find what restores your soul, too.
Alden is an NYC based Actor and Singer and is an “old soul living in a young lady’s body”! Check out more of Alden at AldenGagnon.com and on social media @AldenGagnon