How To Avoid Desperation

Whether you’re an on-camera actor or voice actor (or both)…it can creep in…desperation. I was there recently actually. I wanted to share why and how I got there and how to avoid desperation. 

What exactly IS desperation? 

DESPERATION:  a state of hopelessness leading to rashness.

Despite COVID, last year was still a great year for my VO career. I had a couple of great commercial campaigns and long form VO jobs but during the busiest time of the year for commercials (Thanksgiving – Christmas), commercial bookings just weren’t coming in. 

I felt really confident about my auditions but just wasn’t booking commercials. I started second guessing myself. I even thought, “Heidi, what would you tell another voice actor that was feeling this way?” But that didn’t help. I started diving into desperation. 
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN IT’S DESPERATION? 
Here are some sure fire ways you can tell if you may be in a desperation spiral

1| You start hearing a voice say, “You suck. You’re no good.” When those things start shuffling on repeat, our human reaction is to look for validation from somewhere that that is not true. You want someone to tell you, “No, you’re good. To prove this, you just booked X,Y,Z.” The problem with this? The only person that can change that song on repeat is you. Outside validation pauses it, but never changes the song. The pause only lasts so long. 

2| You start envying other people’s success and comparing. As much as I would love to say that this has never happened to me, I’d be a liar. I’m human and have dealt with this. It sucks. I hate when I find myself in this spot…but I use it as a barometer. These thoughts always mean, I’m being unhealthy in my life – negative self talk, fear, too busy, too stressed, etc. 

3| Nit-picking everything. This may just be for certain personalities…because I also think some people sway towards a “hands off/apathetic” approach as well. When I start overanalyzing everything, I know I’m headed towards desperation. I feel out of control, so I try to control every little thing. This one is hard because subtleties in voiceover are so important. Small things DO matter BUT it comes down more to your motivation. Are you nit-picking to grow or for validation that what you’re doing is “right?” 

HOW TO AVOID DESPERATION
1| Operate from a place of freedom and not fear. That’s why freedom is one of our values at Atlanta Voiceover Studio. If you start fearing financial implications, what others may think of you, a fear of failure, of rejection, etc. These are all places that breed desperation. What you can do? Take ownership of what you can control that may be contributing to these fears. What you can’t do? Anything about what you can’t control. We so often enslave ourselves to things we can’t control. Freedom is the opposite of that. 

2| Seek a support system. Mike is my greatest support in this industry. He understands it, he understands me. Whether it’s classmates, past coaches, agents, etc. It’s okay to reach out and say, “I’m starting to feel some doubt. Can you help me navigate things I can change and what I can’t?” HUGE proponent of counselors too! My counselor and I just talked about desperation last week. 

3| Practice being gracious to yourself. Set goals, make plans, aim to be awesome but hold those loosely if you don’t achieve them. It doesn’t mean failure. A goal is a guide, it’s not the destination. I say this because one of the contributing factors to my desperation spiral was the fact that I didn’t meet my financial goal for 2021. Came close but didn’t make it. Um…Earth to Heidi…we’re in the middle of a pandemic, be grateful you were still able to work!? I completely understand how silly this was. 

4| Have fun and focus on giving, rather than getting. The whole problem with coming to an audition with desperation is that in the very act of that, you’re NEEDING something – validation, assurance, hope, etc. Focus instead on giving what is uniquely you. Creating a feeling of “this is what I have, if you love it, awesome, if you don’t, that’s ok.” That non-salesy, non-desperate vibe is what attracts people to someone. 
I know this was a lot but I hope it encourages you. We are all susceptible to the desperation cycle but we are all susceptible to getting out of it. 

-Mike and Heidi

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