He said, "breathe fully and with unconditional confidence."
I had never heard those two words placed side by side before. As I flowed through vinyasa after vinyasa I continued to examine what each word meant individually, and ultimately what they meant when paired together.
Confidence is of course a word that comes up quite often in the life of an actor. It is a strong internal belief in our own ability and success. We must carry it with us everywhere we go. We must exude it in our headshots. It must permeate the room when we enter for a casting. It must effortlessly glide off our tongues with every scripted word. Most importantly, we must tirelessly cultivate it in the long stretches of time between bookings. We must find a way to make it our constant companion, even in the face of the
Naturally I have encountered the word unconditional as well, mostly in relation to it's cliched pairing with love. Perhaps I've used it along with surrender when practicing the art of letting go of control and things not meant for me. As I continued to up-dog and uttanasana, I started to define what unconditional really meant to me. Unconditional: without conditions. The absence of an expectation of 'give me this first, and only then will I give you that.' Just pure giving with no restrictions due to circumstances, events, time, space or prior achievement. Unconditional.
Then I applied the two definitions together.... Unconditional confidence: to believe in one's own ability and success without restriction or desire for something in return.
Hmmm, interesting. I next wondered, had I ever set conditions that had to be "met" before I could allow myself to feel confident?
Wow. That question hit me hard as I realized the answer was a resounding "Yes."
Not only had I done it before, but being the perfectionist I am, I realized I did it a lot. In my mind, if I didn't fit into a certain pant size, I wouldn't allow myself to feel confident in my body. If I didn't have perfect skin/perfect hair/perfect makeup, my confidence in my appearance waned. If I hadn't booked a project in months, little by little I would start to question my talent. The idea that I only truly felt confident when all those conditions were met astounded me -- and also opened my eyes to the futility of it, because honestly, how often are all of those conditions met?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was continuously putting pressure on myself to achieve certain benchmarks that would then indicate that I could feel justified in having confidence. In other words, most of my confidence was rooted in the achieving of conditions and not actually in my belief that I just am talented and successful. Period. No qualifications. It shocks me that I have any confidence at all given the conditions I set in order to give myself permission to have it. My healthy level of confidence is really just a reflection of my more-than-healthy level of self-discipline.
But what if my confidence was not something I needed to give myself permission to have? What if I could just feel confident no matter what? Even if my pants are tighter than usual, my roots are showing, the pimple on my chin screams "I'm on my period" and I haven't booked a goddamn thing in ages? What if, even with all that, I still have a right to feel confident in my own baddass self?
See what I mean? Pretty fucking profound. I feel a change a-coming.