Virtue In Rest
“Sometimes, you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.”
So, there I was – pretty gungho to push my “side hustle” even further and possibly make it more of a financial asset. I had a plan, I was getting all my ducks in a row, gearing up, insert your favorite expression here, and I was ready to go!
And then, I wasn’t.
I’m going to keep this post a bit short and simple because I feel the core of it deserves its own discussion. Namely, Marketing; Social Media specifically. Networking. That ‘realm’ of the business that is practically how you get business.
No, nothing major happened. I didn’t embarrass myself or ostracize my career over an ill-thought out tweet. This was minor and internal and no one but myself felt it.
I took a “Marketing In Animation” seminar.
I’ve taken this sort of thing in the past but they were generic – some weren’t even “for” voice over and were aimed more at the ‘traditional’ arts (painters, writers etc).
This one was aimed at exactly what I wanted to get into and it told me very much the same information I’d already known; I did get a few tidbits that were knew, which was great.
Unfortunately, that was where the seed of true doubt was planted. I’m sure it was meant as an off-handed comment but the instructor (who will remain nameless) basically said “If you are not an outgoing extrovert, you are in the wrong business.” If you don’t love introducing yourself to strangers, why are you even here?
That’s what hit me. Hard. Because I suffer from social anxiety. I fight through it, taking baby steps as much as I can. I push myself to go to Networking functions, take these online seminars, one-on-one coaching sessions. I was proud of myself for swallowing the shakes, dizziness, nausea and plastering an ear-to-ear grin on my face. I know I’m successful because when I tell people about my issue, they don’t believe me. But in truth, I have vomited from my symptoms, ‘browned out’, cried in panic overcome with an anxiety attack – and I STILL walked through those metaphorical doors once I was able to pull myself together. With a Smile. It’s hard. It’s hard for me but I try. I don’t let my anxiety rule my life but it is a major obstacle I face silently.
But to be told so bluntly that I’m “in the wrong business” (to clarify, this wasn’t said to me directly but to the class as a whole; I never spoke during the seminar b/c it was structured as a lecture, not a discussion).
The instructor recanted a bit and said that we’re all a ‘little introverted’ but by that time, the damage had been done. The seed planted. I left the seminar feeling overwhelmed rather than inspired, unprepared rather than equipped, and defeated.
I became hopeless.
I may have mentioned this previously but I also suffer from depression; chronic depression I’ve had since high school (for those in the back, it’s been at least 14yrs now). So this sort of thing affects me more than someone without this internal struggle; another silent battle I face. An obstacle I try to ram past.
But I couldn’t shake the thought of “what’s the point”. I may have skills or talent as a voice actor but I don’t have what it takes to run my own business. In this profession, I’m a dime a dozen, so I will be lost in the crowd for sure.
I decided to take a step back, breath a little, try to take a break. I’ve been pushed down before & I’ve always gotten back up.
However, I soon found myself in another dilemma; I couldn’t take a break. I’ve already surrounded myself with this profession. They say don’t compare yourself to others but when your social news feeds are full of those successful and happy in their careers, it’s hard not to automatically feel like a failure. I can’t truly unplug; I still get emails advertising seminars and lessons, things even get brought up at my ‘day job’ on a regular basis because of what we do… there is no reprieve.
And then I kept thinking about this blog. I somehow gained a reader but I had nothing to say; nothing positive anyway.
The truth is, I’m still at that point mostly. I have tried to sit and reflect on what I want and I think I need to aim lower and not have any real expectations. I want to get regular, steady VO work so I feel relevant to the industry and somewhat successful at my career. But getting cast in a cartoon series or big named video game? I no longer see that as my future. It is still my dream, certainly. But not all dreams are meant to come true.
There are other life factors keeping me a bit busy but I still feel I need a bit more respite before I try again. I’ll then hopefully attack it clear-headed and focused.
Not to leave you on a low note, there are a few positive things to point out –
Last year, I didn’t really get a chance to audition all that regularly yet I still booked a few gigs. They were either returning clients or they found me organically; so that is promising. People can find me when I’m active on social media and I provide satisfactory service, so those who work with me want to do it again.
I’ve also set up my studio and I don’t think I ever did share pictures; I’ll have to do that soon! It’s much more bright and happy in there and I even had to do math to figure out the proper acoustic placement!
In short, I’m down but not out.
Thank you for sticking around.