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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Barr-Sim

Know Your Worth

Updated: May 7, 2019

It’s really hard sometimes to know your worth. The modern competitiveness and being bet against each other feels like you have less and less to offer. The bar to rate yourself seems to be constantly raised. First, it’s a degree, then it’s a job, then it’s followers, then likes, then another job. Then it’s how well you keep up with all your shit. How well you can keep up the charade, keep the smiles, the energy, the ‘good will to all’ vibez going. Well I don’t last very long I can tell you that much.

I admire people that can just keep going and going. If I don’t get to the countryside once a month I end up feeling like London’s skyline’s caving in on me in a dramatic apocalyptic meltdown. It feels that with every graduating year there are endless actors out there with degrees, endless BA’s in this and that and then another tsunami of people who didn’t go to drama school. This results in not seeing a degree as anything special. It’s something that happened. I got my scroll and three years of backed up stress but so did every other person. So, it means diddlysquat right? Of course, that’s complete bollocks.

I was recently reminded that three years of training means something, I had honestly allowed myself to believe that it wasn’t anything special or I didn’t achieve anything that mighty. However, of course, we do have skills that are worthy of people knowing about. Those three years have equated to something, to skills that give you reason and cause to be in a room with important people, to be in the fight with everyone else. Did you or did you not do workshop after workshop from Meisner to Laban to voice to Commedia del’Arte? Did you or did you not have lessons on how to dissect Shakespeare? If someone gave you two people and told you that you have to make a play, would or wouldn’t know what to do? If you were given a dense script wouldn’t you be able to break it down, make some choices and be able to perform it? I often find myself feeling like I wouldn’t know, the further I get from having been in a rehearsal room, the further away my confidence in my abilities gets. Learning these skills was the norm for so long that I’m actually unaware of what’s in my toolbox. Most of its moulded into one blob of blobbyness but actually when the reality of needing them comes they bubble back to the surface. If you take the time to sit and analyse what went on over those years, when presented with something I can do it. I can do it all. However, in the fight alongside everyone else with ‘special’ skills up to their eyeballs it’s hard to keep the perspective on what you can do.

My damned British nature also comes to bite. For some reason there’s a tricky balance at play in the conscience of British people (probs just me) but there’s a fine line between knowing what you bring to the party and being an arrogant twat. To say you're good at something often leaves people wrinkling their noses, bitching about you in the coffee room, or that’s certainly my fear. So often do I find myself in conversation at a pub, with people I know and people I’m meeting for the first time where I do classic self-deprecating nonsense. I brush off conversation about myself, turn it back to the other because I don’t feel like what I’ve got to say has as much worthiness to be discussed as theirs. In an interview for a day job I’m asked to talk about what I’ve been up to. I rattle on, spouting probably quite a lot of rubbish and just throw on the end ‘I’m an actor though.’ Someone once turned to me and said, ‘What do you mean “though”, you either are an actor or you’re not.’ This lead to a string of apologies and a tad more self-deprecation. Why have I allowed myself to not put any worth on being an actor? Is it because I’m yet to get a professional job? Yet to pay a bill from money I’ve earnt acting so therefore don’t put it on the appropriate level? Because acting seems to be one of the only careers where if you’re not in a job then you’re unemployed and have to call yourself a bar maid…. ? What was the point in all that hard work if I’m not even going to own the fact that I’m an actor? I might as well put a suit on and bugger off. To say with confidence that I’m an actor, that I’m good at what I do doesn’t make me an arrogant twat. To say I want to be in Shakespeare or at the fringe or on the telly for my mum to watch, that I can do it, doesn’t make foolish, it’s showing I have aspirations. I have to learn to own it and know what I bring to the party. Just don’t be a twat about it.

“Your worth is not dependent on external things. It doesn’t fluctuate, no matter what you do or don’t do. It isn’t tied to how productive you are. Think about it: if someone you love is unwell, or elderly, or has decided to quit the nine-to-five to travel the world, they may not be being ‘productive’ in terms of work but they are no less loved and valuable to you. Even if you did nothing all day you would still be valuable. As a human being, you are worthwhile just for being you.” The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge. Now this doesn’t necessarily directly relate to the world of a creative, but I believe there are things that can be taken from it. That before you do anything you carry the worth that’s necessary. With or without training, you’ve got something. On a job or pouring pints, you still carry the qualities that make you worthy and at the end of the day you still have family or friends that don’t think you as much of a pillock as you do!

In ways to combat when you feel like you’re nothing at all my plan is to take the words ‘fake it till you make it’ very literally. I’m currently at a temp job in a big corporate company. It’s a world away from the peeling walls in a rundown studio of East 15. I have far too much responsibility than I’d like. I had to book someone a private jet, a private jet! With every phone call I make, with anxiety rising as my likeliness to make a complete tit of myself grows I have to tell myself to, literally, fake it till I make it. I fake that confidence. Act like this is just an average Monday at the office and the tenth private jet I’ve booked that day. This is proof that you learn things wherever you are because I have to have this confidence, it’s essential for working well here. As a day comes when I feel that I’m wavering, where I lack my hopeful self-confidence, when I don’t feel like I deserve to be in that room, I will put a smile on my face and I’ll fake it and it eventually settles in you and becomes real.

Permission to be hippy here – I am also a big believer in energies. I strongly believe that if you put the right energy out there, the universe will respond. If you’re faking it till you’re making it, you’ll be projecting a wave of positive energy and people pick up on it. If someone answers your phone call and receives your energy of positivity and confidence, they are most definitely, 1000 scout’s honours, more likely to give you the time of day. If you’ve got an audition or an interview, you’ll find you get so much more out of it if you’re aware of what energy you’re putting out. That’s the way I’m working these days – add that with actual belief in your worth and who knows what could happen!

Although, big surprise, all is easier said than done. In this Instagram generation of liking and constant comparison, the ‘faking’ attitude to give yourself a boost to get something done becomes actual fakery and a distorted balance of success is reality. All a cause, I’m sure of the lack of personal acceptance and a continuation of burning yourself out.

Self-worth and personal confidence can sometimes feel like a diamond in all of England’s haystacks, keep looking. Let me know when you find it.

I would like to put an inspiring quote here to sum up what I’ve said but I can’t find one that I like enough so here’s a limerick:

One Saturday morning at three,

A cheese monger’s shop in Paree,

Collapsed to the ground,

With a thunderous sound,

Leaving only a pile of de brie!

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