“Why am I so nervous?”
This question was posed to me by another actress in an audition waiting room.
Besides a whole slew of possible contributing factors like, lack of preparation, low self esteem, it’s been too long since your last audition, or it’s been too many auditions since you’ve booked, whatever is spinning in your intellect, the bottom line is, fear of the unknown.
The waiting room for an audition can feel a bit like a torture chamber where your body acts like it’s under attack, and your intellect spins out trying to justify why your body feels like it’s under attack.
Fear of the unknown...
What is going on in that room?
Are they in good spirits? Why did they spend so much time with the person before me? Am I going to suck? What if my voice cracks? What if they made a mistake and I’m not supposed to be here? What if my ex is the reader? What if my choices are all wrong?
What if? What if? What if?
So many variables.
So, how do we not only become more comfortable with the unknown, but also learn to embrace it?
1) First, recognize and then accept that the reason you are so nervous is because of all of the unknowns. There is no shame in having a stress response because of a highly demanding and vulnerable situation.
2) Instead of dwelling on the endless "what ifs" that swirl around the unknown, take a moment to identify what you do know.
a. I've been to this office before.
b. I know the casting assistant really well.
c. I worked on this material with my vocal coach, and worked on the sides with my trusted friend.
d. I am about 80% off book, which is plenty for an audition.
e. I look fabulous.
f. My headshot and resume look great and are up to date.
g. I am prepared to sing 100% of the material in my book should they ask for another selection.
h. I warmed up my voice and body today.
*Notice that all of these knowns are external. Also notice how much preparation and your materials like HS/RES and Vocal Book factor into the list of things you do have control of.
3) Now take a moment to identify the internal knowns.
a. I love performing and have loved this craft for X amount of years.
b. Booking or not booking this job does not define me.
c. I have spent countless hours refining my craft over the years. Let's see where I am today.
d. I am so much more than this audition.
What about embracing the unknown?
1) This concept takes a bit more practice, but consider this; as soon as you step into the room, several unknowns disappear. For example:
a. Never met the director? Take the time to look in her eyes and meet her. Not in a creepy way, but a present way. Take the moment you need to turn an unknown into a known. "Now, I've met the director. Check."
b. Is your ex the reader? Breath a sigh of relief and gratitude when you discover they aren't. Or if they are, well, now you know! That'll be a good story for your roommate later today.
c. Are they in good spirits? Gauge the room. Check out the energy. This is a collaboration after all; you're not the only one doing your job. Everyone in the room is doing a job. It takes the pressure off, doesn't it?
2) Everything awesome that has come to you, or that you have created, or earned, or been awarded, has once lived in the unknown. The unknown houses all possibilities, not only the negative ones.
a. What if I am so awesome, I even surprise myself?
b. What if they take the time to give me direction, and I nail it?
c. What if they ask me to sing a song from my book and I blow them away?
d. What if I make a mistake but am so dang charming about it that the whole room is uplifted?
What if? What if? What if?
If the unknown and what ifs are possible wins, then suddenly, I can't wait to get into that room!
For those of you who have learned Vedic Meditation, you have either already developed or are in the process of developing a greater sense of who you are; that capital "S" Self-identity that puts everything neatly into perspective. That doesn't mean you don't get nervous before auditions, but you may have already experienced the invaluable ability to "let go" and to relax and enjoy.
Feel free to use these tools in addition to your consistent twice daily meditation practice. Especially when you have a lot going on, be non-negotiable about your practice because establishing yourself in "being" will give the action you take greater impact and relevance.
For everyone, whether you practice Vedic Meditation or not, I hope this small shift in mindset can give you some relief in the audition waiting room. I am rooting for you!