Over the past 90 days, I embarked on a little self challenge. I did an acting self tape every day. Like, every day.
My goals were plentiful, but the main focus was improving my self tape skills and making it something that I just do easily and without questions. There was also a technique for self tapes that I learned not long ago that I wanted to keep sharp (especially because I wasn’t going to be in classes for a bit).
I had a ton of travel on my schedule. I had plenty of other things on my plate. But I did it. I did a self tape every day. For 90 damn days.
Yet, the title of this post as the word “disappointing” in it. Why?
Well, my friends, that’s because my quiet goal was actually 108 self tapes every day. It’s a weird number, but any of you yogis out there know that 108 is a magical number of transformation. I quietly told myself 90 would be amazing. But I figured by the time I got to 90, I’d be able to just keep plowing through to get to that strange and wonderful 108.
That wasn’t the case.
Instead, I found I was often phoning in the self tapes. Sometimes, it was by necessity. I would be traveling and simply didn’t have ten minutes to set aside to get on tape. There were other times my travel plans went awry and I thought I’d have time and I didn’t. I was in about 20 states on the east and west coast and plenty in between (some multiple times) over the course of these 90 days. So, for me, the fact that I could keep up the commitment to putting myself on tape every day no matter what was totally worth it.
But by the end, I was drained. I was physically exhausted and creatively pretty numb. I still kept up my self tapes but I was phoning it in. The last self tape was me doing one line from a movie (a famous line, to be fair). I tried to give it my own spin. I was simultaneously rewriting a feature script I’ve been toying with for years that I finally have the motivation to redo. So, again to be fair, I wasn’t doing nothing. I just wasn’t focused on the tapes.
And when that magical 90 hit, something in me said “We’re done.” Not that I won’t do more tapes, I actually have made some promises to writers that tapes are coming (and if those writers are reading this, they’re coming!). And I really enjoyed the exercise and, for the few real self tape auditions I did get sprinkled in there, it certainly made it easy since I was already in the groove.
But part of me feels like I failed. I set out for a certain number and I didn’t do it. This is a habit I have of setting myself up for something pretty intense and then often petering out just before the finish line. That’s why and where the “disappointed” comes from.
I let myself wallow in this for about a day. And then I looked at the body of work I had accomplished and listened to my own instinct which is begging me to spend more time focusing on some other projects, and I accepted it. Though these tapes didn’t take a ton of time, I wasn’t devoting the type of energy in the end I needed to devote for them to have any benefit. But I was going through the motions, which is something I’m not a fan of.
On Monday (day 91), I took a long look at myself in the mirror and asked if we were doing this. I knew the challenged of the week ahead and the focus that has been begging for me to put it in other places. I know this weekend I’d be heading off to celebrate my husband (who helped me do these self tapes no matter what his chaotic schedule and despite the fact that he is not – at all – an actor). He’s celebrating a major career goal and the last thing I want to do is ask him to pause time from his own celebrations to do my thing for a minute. We’ve done a lot of my thing over the past three months. We can take three days and do his.
There’s an ambitious part of me that’s angry I didn’t finish those last 18 days. And the funniest part is, a lot of my actor friends are beginning their own self tape challenge in May. So it’d be a great time to get motivated by other likeminded people do to something like this and follow through.
But I’m on my own journey. And I’m learning from every major accomplishment, minor victory, and overly ambitious disappointment. I appreciate things most when I actually focus and follow through. And sometimes that means pulling focus from one thing to have energy to focus on another, rather than trying to half-ass a bunch of things simply because I said I would.
90 days of self tapes, especially given my atypical travel schedule, is something to celebrate. Other people’s challenges and journeys are their own. I can let them inspire me and need not worry about missing out on them. In the interest of balance as a human and creative person, it’s okay to tap out now and still revel in the glory rather than berate myself for the misses.