This question comes up in my own life from time to time, so I shall share from a personal perspective to give this context...
I am building a one-woman show. I have been writing and re-writing the context and direction and then setting it aside, coming back to it, re-writing, setting it aside, considering music that will settle in, setting it aside. It is more of a concert with monologue - but it has yet to be finished.
I am getting tired of myself! Am I making excuses for not finishing it and getting it up on its feet and if so, why?! And then my wise husband proceeded to once again, explain how my schedule is 16-18 hour days and my focus is primarily on teaching right now and I commute and I travel to several cities to teach during the year. So there is not open-ended time to work on this show consistently, and if I want it done, it'll get done! I need to be patient with myself. Until there is more than 24 hours in a day, unlimited energy and unlimited muse, I am defined by my life where this process is concerned!
We all need that outside voice to remind us where we are! I am NO exception!!
So - my life takes up - my life!! And I make no excuses for it. I get frustrated sometimes, but I continue to find what I need to do in order to DO it.
So based on my own questions, frustrations, realizations and growth, I came to this blog topic today. Perhaps I will be somebody's "outside voice" as my husband is often mine!
The first question is this: "What are you saying you are doing?" And the follow question is quickly "And what are you ACTUALLY doing?"
If you say you are an actor/singer first - are you living your life that way? Whether you are pursuing a career or whether you are pursuing your artistic spirit with a parallel life, how are living?
Excuses often come from fear or insecurity. Excuses are a protection mechanism of sorts. However, this mechanism can begin to loop and create a false sense of development. Excuses often "protect" a reality we are unwilling, unable or scared to acknowledge.
Then the question is: "Are you ready to pay attention to your behavior and your language?"
If we are artists, developing artists, whether we are pursuing a career or not, we MUST have a capacity to tell the truth - and that capacity has to start with ourselves. If we are unable or unwilling to begin to see what is true in ourselves, we are creating a deception that is not artistically driven. Sometimes the truth is hard to see and take it, but by confronting it, it gives us knowledge and a choice to make a decision and ACT on that knowledge! Artists do not sleep-walk through their lives. They look at the what is most difficult to see and touch it and act on it. Sometimes those realities are more about US than it is about what is out there.
So what is excuse and what is life?
Are you saying you are an artist and that you want to pursue a career? Let's be really obvious. Are you studying? Are you going to classes? How are you answering this? Is your answer yes/I am trying or is your answer giving an excuse? A "but"?
If you recognize that you study when you can because you are still paying rent and need your day job and can't afford to study weekly, then that is LIFE. If you say "I would but..." that is an excuse!
Do you book lessons, classes and then not show? Cancel at the last minute? Is that not an excuse? So the question is simply: What are you afraid of? Start telling the truth to yourself!! If you do not, somebody else will start telling you the truth, and there will be no filter!! If a teacher or coach begins to see the excuse-train, they simply do not have time to keep space for you. They recognize you as someone who has not made a DECISION about WHY you are doing what you are doing, or someone who has not committed to HOW they can do what they say they want to. Wanting to and DOING are not the same thing!!
What about when you are in that lesson or that class? Do you do the work, or do you preface everything with an excuse? As teachers of ANY discipline, we don't need to know why you can't do something - that is why you are there!!! TO LEARN HOW!!
Again, excuses develop out of insecurity. So why are you insecure? What scares you? If you make excuses, you have not confronted that in yourself yet. It's time to acknowledge that and deal with, or it becomes a crutch and will completely debilitate your growth as an artist, as a performer and as a human being.
Excuses are passive and weak. Artists need to ACT - they need to DO. We must learn to take our work seriously and not take ourselves so seriously. It is the WORK that stands.
I have a studio filled with many types of singers from many genres and many lives! Why? Because it doesn't matter if you are a career-building singer, a vocational singer, an actor exploring his/her singing voice, a part-time career singer etc - as long as you are COMMITTED TO YOU.
Your and your life will determine where you need to be. Your work and commitment to that work and that development is determined by YOU.
If you are hiding in your excuses, then what is that telling you? What are you afraid of? Finding out what you are capable of? Finding out maybe this isn't the life for you?
Guess what? It's okay. It's okay to find out you want to be elsewhere and still sing cause you just simply love to sing! Having and pursuing a career isn't for everybody! And it's okay to discover you've been holding yourself back because of fear and insecurity and work through that and make a DECISION to drop the excuses and FIND THE TRUTH!
The truth may not be what you think you want to hear. But what are the excuses doing? The truth will give you an opportunity to have a life and create a life! Again, being an artist and being an artist pursuing a career are NOT the same thing. It is OKAY to be one and not the other. It is OKAY to have YOUR LIFE and not the life you think you should or feel obligated to have. Have the life you have.
DARE TO LIVE YOUR REALITY and quit making excuses for it.
Do you really want to go to lessons and classes? Do you really want to pursue this and if so, to what capacity? DARE TO BE HONEST. Why do you audition? Why do you make excuses about auditions? When you walk into a "professional" space, what is your sense of yourself? What are the first words out of your mouth? Are you apologizing (excuse) or are you ready to work (life!)?
Quit making excuses and LIVE! MAKE A DECISION! Artists cannot be beige - they must live VIBRANTLY. Are you? It is a yes/no question - anything else is an excuse!!! See???
Excuses stop you from growing - but life gives you truth and answers. The truth isn't always comfortable, but you can make a decision to CREATE it into something you LIVE.
Pay attention to your language and your reaction and your action - or lack of it. It will show you very quickly whether life is busy or excuses are stopping you from living. It is up to YOU ALONE to make a decision as to whether you acknowledge it or not, and in acknowledging what action you take to embrace it or change it. Personal responsibility is key.
DARE TO LIVE!!! Even when it's unsure. As you begin to claim your life, the insecurities become unnecessary, and the life you live will become SURE.
A p.s. - since I spoke a little more about "me" today (!!!)
A great colleague of mine, Chris Foley, helped me figure out the upload things so I am sharing with you two songs from my album, Taking My Turn! And these two tunes may make it into my one-woman show!!! Click and enjoy!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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