As an actor, you have to learn to live with The Fear. In fact, you have to be so comfortable with The Fear that you can let it live in your house, not let it wake you up every single night and be totally understanding that it seems to have eaten all your food, spent all your money and makes you regret choosing Drama instead of Maths.
Yes, The Fear is the seemingly unending absence of work in your life. It’s the realisation that if you had a pound for every time that you worried that you’d never work again then you’d never need to work again.
The Fear is currently trying to move into my house.
It’s amazing what you can do to try and put off The Fear and hope it lodges with someone else instead. I recently lost my resting job and The Fear booked its ticket here but I’m not ready for it just yet. First, I went up to Edinburgh for a week. I was doing one ten minute Casting Call Woe set while up there so, y’know, totally still working. Now, I’m back and next week I'm getting new head shots done and have one day's acting work booked in. That's the only acting work I currently have booked in for the rest of my life and that's quite a terrifying prospect. When I get up at 10:30am, I can feel The Fear hovering at the end of the street, waiting for its moment.
For the first time in quite some time, I’m totally unemployed. No acting work, no resting work. My savings account is now like the work colleague who finds themself on the same train home as you, desperately trying to avoid contact so it can be left alone to enjoy its book. You know they don’t want to speak but you’ve made so much eye contact that, despite yourself, you’re clambering over people’s bags to go and bother it.
The fear is a dangerous thing. It makes you doubt yourself and forces you to look at your empty diary until you start putting in the birthdays of long-forgotten school mates just to have something instead of endless blank pages. The fear will happily force you into a call centre and will tell you that a break from acting is fine. TOTALLY FINE. It’ll drag you from the thing you love and do all it can to stop you looking back. Just keep looking forward and focus on how nice it is to be able to afford to buy your friends a drink for once.
I know The Fear means I should just tie myself to the temporary jobs' section on Reed and focus on how I can make a mean Excel spreadsheet and scan a document within an inch of its life. But I’m not. Instead I’m pinning my hopes on my upcoming new headshots fooling everyone into thinking I’m Benedict Cumberbatch and I'm tirelessly trawling through casting websites trying to find work. Actual work. And for those of you who follow my Casting Call Woe Tumblr, you’ll know how difficult that is. Pinning hopes on casting sites is about as safe as getting up on a rickety chair in the opening scene of Casualty. It means that every morning you get up, full of hope, and by lunchtime those hopes have been dashed due to you not being beautiful enough/white enough/naked enough/male enough. But you keep going because, well, that's what being an actor is.
So, if you see The Fear while you're out and about, let it know that I'm making its bed up and getting in its favourite brand of tea, but I'm not ready for it just yet. Not quite yet.