Don’t Apologize for Your Journey

Stefanie Townsend

Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twelve. Comparison is the thief of joy. Flowers don’t worry about blooming more than the one next to it, only about how much it blooms itself.

Chances are, you’ve heard all the above and more.

Chances are, you still compare yourself to others.

As an actor, comparing yourself to others is difficult to avoid. It’s an unhealthy habit to develop, of course, but it’s a difficult one to get away from.

It’s easy to compare yourself to people in your theatre department, your castmates, your friends. It’s easy to compare yourself to celebrities.

So and So already has an impressive resume and is my age. This actor who is younger than me already won an Oscar. This actor my age is a movie star. This actor is two years older and is prolific. And I’m not. What gives?

People compare talent, looks, size, vocal range and type.

But it seems that people compare journeys most of all.

I’ve been in that position countless times. There are many actors I look up to, ones from different countries, different ages, different walks of life. Ones who are famous and well known, ones who are still in school, ones who are getting their start professionally.

And I’d rather be in their shoes than mine.

I’ve gotten incredible training. I’ve gotten cast. I’ve gotten callbacks. I’m constantly inspired and feel that I can make it in this difficult acting world.

But I still look at others and ask, why am I not there? Why am I not in their position? Why is my journey not this far along or on this path?

Why am I still stuck on chapter one?

People say it’s not the destination that counts, but the journey. And the journey of an actor is a long, difficult, emotional, trying one. Overnight successes never truly happen overnight. It takes years and years of dedication, learning, trying, experiencing, growing. It takes years and years of waiting and commitment.

It takes years and years. And years.

It’s maddening, of course. It’s easy to feel that you’re in a rut, or that you’re going nowhere. That your life and career are stagnant. That because you’re not doing anything at this exact point in time, you’re doomed, you’re done for.

It’s not true.

We need to stop apologizing for our journeys.

We need to stop apologizing for not having a flurry of Oscars. That our resumes are not ten feet long. That it takes time to get to the destination. That the destination, the top of the mountain, doesn’t even actually exist.

We need to focus on improvement, on giving excellent auditions and work. We need to focus on the now, the present, where we are on our path. We need to be grateful that we have made it here.

We have to stop comparing our completion of our journey to the completion of others. Who knows what they have encountered on the way there? Who knows what Latest Oscar Winner encountered on theirs? Everyone has their own obstacles. We need to face ours, because overcoming our own obstacles is the only way we will go down further on the path.

Don’t apologize for your journey.

Be proud that you’ve started it.

Photo: University of Florida