Not literally - you don't shoot yourself in the foot LITERALLY (although Plaxico Burress would disagree since he accidentally shot himself in the leg) - but you get in your own way of something you really want.
Since returning from my visit home to LA three weeks ago, I have been out on thirteen auditions. Thirteen auditions in what is locally considered to be the SLOW season in a smaller market. The best part of that kind of volume is that you don't have the energy to expend on just one audition being your "shot", so you tend to stay out of your own way. I firmly believe that actors do their best work in the audition room when they know that this job isn't the ONLY one, that their career doesn't hinge on this one particular audition, because HECK - I've got another one tomorrow (or this afternoon!).
The reality is that we all have to work on developing a thicker skin. One where the constant rejection (and yes - there is constant rejection when you are an actor) doesn't impact our own sense of self worth. That our self worth depends not on what we do, but on who we are as human beings. Because, let's face it - acting is subjective. Everyone has an opinion. You will always be too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too young, too old, looks like that girl that picked on me in school, has the same name as the girl I hated in school, too plain, too pretty, too.... everything.
It's that occasional job - the one where you really are what they thought of in their minds before casting - that you walk in the door and BAM, you're it! And as long as you can act, you'll book that job.
So with that in mind, it makes it easier to face the constant rejection and celebrate the occasional bookings. Because you cannot truly change who you are when you walk into the room. You can augment with makeup, hair and wardrobe, but you are being judged on the essence of who you are and you are either RIGHT or you're NOT.
I've been doing really well rolling with those punches lately. Doing the best work that I'm capable of in the moment, and walking out without my self value hanging on that one audition.
Until you go in for that one job that you REALLLLLLLY want. That you've been waiting for for more than a year. And you get the callback, and at that callback you can just TASTE it - that feeling of getting the call that you booked the job. You are IN, and your professional career is going to change.
And then the nerves start. Those nerves you thought you got the best of back in college. And the self doubt kicks in. And you realize how flipping talented all the other people in the waiting room are. And you realize that you can never measure up. That you are going to screw this up and not get this dream job and your career will never recover and you are wasting your time and their time. And... And... And... Conveniently forgetting that they liked you enough to call you back. That there was something about you that was absolutely right for the job. That in some way they thought they could hire you for it.
And you walk in the room and you shoot yourself in the foot (FIGURATIVELY), and you make a mess of things and put your fragile ego back through the wringer.
But somehow, if your career is truly worth it, you will salvage your self respect, learn from the experience, brush yourself off and move on.
And you may just book the very next job you have a callback for, the one you also really want. The one you have the very next day. Because you have realized that you cannot allow yourself to get in your own way.
And next time.... maybe you'll be able to put those nerves to rest.
You are back in the game. Back in the swing. Back to being comfortable in your own skin. Back to work.
By the way, I booked that very next job. And I really wanted it, too. ;)