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Letting Go of the Competition Mindset

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This is really hard for me to admit. But it took me until about a year ago to actually be happy for other actors when they booked jobs. I would say I was happy for them. I would act excited and supportive. But I was none of those things. I would analyze why they’re working and I’m not. I would obsess about why I didn’t get the same opportunities as others. And this feeling was not exclusive to the actors in my category either…so it was also an epic energy-suck.

The most basic instinct people would assume this comes down to is jealousy. But I think it was so much more than that. I think it was self-doubt: what makes them better than me? Why am I not enough? I think it was the comparison: what are they doing that’s working well and what do they have that I do not? I think it was anger: I am working so fucking hard and no one can tell because I’m not getting what they are! I think it was the competition: they’ve booked four commercials and I’ve only booked one, clearly, they are winning. I think it was a lot of things.

It was a major battle for me. I knew I needed to let it go, stay in my lane, focus on my work and myself. But that is so much easier said than done. I want to open up this conversation today. And for as long as possible. For actors to openly admit this is something they have felt. I highly doubt anyone reading this is innocent of these feelings. And guess what? We’re ok. We’re a work in progress.

When you’re in the business of yourself, although it may seem like every other freaking actor is your competition, they’re actually your teammates because (don’t close this article just yet, it’s not that cheesy I promise) none of you can do the exact same job. You may look alike, you may have a similar accent or cadence, but no one has had the exact same experiences as you. Which we all know is what shades and colors us and our work in the ways beyond the physical.

The catalyst for me to change my mindset on this was without a doubt deciding to be helpful to as many actors as possible (which is why I created my site and podcast). Right about then, I stopped comparing and marinating in all those shitty feelings. It’s like when you see someone in the waiting room or in a workout class they look super rude (you know what I mean, like resting bitch face) and you just assume they’re judging you or hating on you. And then you talk to them in some small way and they turn out to be really cool. That’s what happened to me when I started sharing my experiences and opinions with the goal of helping out a few new actors. I shifted my focus so instead of “all on me,” it was “all on us”. How can we work better, smarter, harder? How can we book more jobs? How can we help each other?

It did not happen overnight. It took a shit-ton of reflection. And in all honesty, it is still a lot of work. But realizing how different we all are and how different our work is AND realizing how much more there is to it than appearance…well, it actually took a huge weight off my shoulders. The energy I had subconsciously fed into those feelings is now used in other ways. I can now honestly say I love supporting other actors. Of course, I still want every audition I go to. But if and when I don’t get them, I know the girl they choose plays a different role in our team than I do.

Realizing that there is room for everyone to succeed (maybe not every day, maybe not today or tomorrow or in the next year, but someday) gives me a hell of a lot more confidence than a competition mindset ever will.

Sam Valentine

About Sam Valentine

Sam is an actress based in LA from all over the midwest. She created and runs 1 Broke Actress, a website and podcast dedicated to the honest truth of the working actor life...basically to kill some free time...but also to help other people in this creative cluster-f*ck of a world feel a little less unstable and alone. She lives in Hollywood with her boyfriend and rescue dogs. Instagram: @samvalentine