Greetings, MTCA fam!
When I was approached via email to write about psychological prep for auditions, I’m not gonna lie: I full-out yelled at my laptop “YES PLEASE!” (And I maaaaay have been alone in my apartment. And I maaaaay have scared the heck outta my poor dog ;)) When it comes to college auditions – and honestly to life, in general – I love, love, LOVE to talk about/dig into/explore the inner workings of our brains.
Y’all here’s the thing: auditioning is ALL ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY. It’s about finding ways to train (and oft times RE-train) your brain on how to approach the process with positivity, light, and gratitude. Note that I didn’t say “with confidence and calm”. Now do you need confidence and calm for your auditions? Absolutely. But those two things are the *result* of re-training your brain. I’m guessing each and every one of you have been told at some point or another: “Be more confident!” And you probably thought to yourself, “Gee. Thanks for that oh-so-handy advice. Now would you care to tell me HOW to go about doing that?!”
So, my beautiful humans…
Here are a few handy tools to set you on the path towards that desired, oh-so-delicious goal of “confidence and calm”.
#1: Take your brain to the gym.
Despite the fact that our brain is technically an organ, research has shown that a brain is more like a MUSCLE. It changes. It grows. It’s *malleable*. (How cool is that?!) And how do we make sure our muscles are in tip-top shape? We take ‘em to the gym, right?! Now if we go to the gym once a week: we’re not gonna see much growth. But if you get into a routine and develop daily habits: THAT’S when you begin to see your body shifting and changing.
Our brains are no different. Our daily habits and practices shape and mold our brains, which in turn shape and mold our thoughts and how we think (which in turn can create incredible, beautiful shifts in our overall lives).
A daily habit that I personally swear by:
GRATITUDE JOURNALING –
This one seems super simple (and it is). It is also super MAGICAL.
Trust me on this.
Keep a journal next to your bed. As soon as you open your eyes – before you reach for your phone, before you make that cup of coffee before your feet even hit the floor – reach for that journal and write down THREE things you’re grateful for. These three things can be short and simple, or long and detailed. Totally up to you. (“I’m grateful it’s Saturday!” or “I’m grateful that my dog did that adorable thing where she curls up in my armpit and then snores like a bear, which makes me giggle but is also slightly annoying, but like in a cute way!” – You get the picture). And then: same thing at night. The last thing before you close your eyes: reach for that journal and write down THREE more things that you’re grateful for. This may sound a bit silly,
but y’all….gratitude is POWERFUL. Research has shown that gratitude improves general well-being, increases resilience, strengthens your immune system, and reduces stress and depression (and hey guess what? That list right there? ALL THINGS THAT ARE CRUCIAL FOR A SUCCESSFUL AUDITION)
If you maintain this daily practice (which takes a couple of minutes in the morning and a couple of minutes at night), I SWEAR to you: you will start to see and feel a shift in your overall mindset. And a healthy, positive mindset is KEY for a successful audition.
#2: Put yourself on an equal playing field.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with auditions: walking into the room thinking, “I hope they like me”. I mean yeah…it’s always nice to be liked. But here’s the thing: the folks sitting behind those audition tables want you to like THEM too! (they are human, afterall!) AND they’re genuinely excited to see who you are and what makes you YOU. They want to CONNECT with you. When you walk into an audition room, try replacing “I hope they like me” with “I hope I like THEM.” Put yourself on an equal playing field. Allow yourself to be genuinely excited to meet these people (afterall: you’re potentially spending the next four years with them. You DO need to like them :)).
When working with my students, I often compare auditioning with dating. If you’re on a first date, you do NOT want to be sitting across from that person thinking, “Gosh, do they like me? Do they find me attractive? Am I saying the right things? Am I acting the right way?” YIKES. That is a recipe for utter disaster. But if you’re on a first date and you’re thinking, “Hey! These are the awesome things I bring to the table! What awesome things do YOU bring to the table?”…THIS puts you both on an equal playing field, which sets you up for the best chance for connection and success. Auditions are no different. If you walk in and let your thoughts go to a place of “Do they like me? Do they think I’m good? Do they think I’m attractive? Do they like my material?”…NOPE NOPE NOPE.
Allow yourself to replace those thoughts with “Hey! This is who I am, and I’m darn proud of the work I’ve done so far! Who are YOU? Are you someone with whom I want to spend four years?” Equal playing field = maximum opportunity for authentic connection. BOOM.
#3 Inhale courage. Exhale fear.
Whenever you feel your thoughts starting to go down the slippery slope of self-doubt or worry: stop whatever you’re doing. Close your eyes. Place your hands on your belly. Inhale deeply, drawing the breath from the soles of your feet. Feel your stomach expand as you do this. As you inhale, envision warm, golden light entering your body. This light is ENERGY. This light is COURAGE. This light is LOVE. This light is your AWESOMENESS. When we have negative thoughts, we are momentarily abandoning ourselves. When you inhale that beautiful, warm energy, you are welcoming yourself back to YOURSELF. “Oh hey, awesome ME! I know I left you for a second, but come on back in. It’s pretty great in here!” INHALE COURAGE.
And on your exhalation: release all of those negative thoughts that momentarily crept in. As my grandmomma used to say: “Bless them and release them”. Envision them actually leaving your body. EVICT those suckers!
Remember: we are human. We are perfectly imperfect. It’s not about NEVER having negative thoughts. It’s about acknowledging them, saying “Hey, it’s a-okay that you’re here. I see you. But you are *not* behind the driver’s seat. I am. My awesome, badass self is driving, thank you very much”.
So the bottom line, folks: get those brains to the gym. Start today by creating daily habits and practices. Abraham Hicks once said: “As you think, you vibrate. As you vibrate, you attract”. By committing to those habits, you are raising your thoughts (and thus your vibrations) higher and higher. And when this happens, you will attract amazing things. Confidence will become second-nature. Calm will become your norm. Once you’re able to realize that YOU control your thoughts – that YOU’RE in the driver’s seat – everything shifts. You can then put yourself on that equal playing field. You can choose to inhale courage and exhale fear. You can choose to embrace your awesomeness, your beautiful, authentic self. Because there is no one else like you in the world. You are beautiful. You are unique. You are important. And those folks behind the table will be incredibly lucky to get to witness your work.
Enjoy that mental gym time, y’all; and know that there’s an MTCA coach down in Atlanta, GA, who is sending each and every one of you SO much energy and light during the coming months. You’ve got this. And we’ve got YOU.
Namaste, you beautiful humans. 🙂
About the Author
Rhyn McLemore is a graduate of the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. Her performance career has taken her all over the country, as well as all over the globe. She currently resides in Atlanta, GA, with her partner, Josh, and her unbearably adorable 10 lb coton de tulear pup, Sadie.