Saturday, March 17, 2012

Surprise! The Wallflower may be an Actor.

- The Pygmalion Effect: the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people, the better they perform -

"You'll never make it"

Most of us have heard this from someone at some point. Some of us hear it more. Those that are marginalized, small people, seemingly quiet people, Wallflowers,  you know the types.

Sometimes its true.

I am that person. I was expected to be stupid, and quiet. I played the quiet stupid role to make things easy. I wanted to get hired again. Speaking out caused trouble. I was a child Actor. Perhaps this enabled my pretence.

Regardless of their spirit, they are subjected to the Pygmalian Effect. For example,  I was often pulled aside and told to stop coming across as a smart ass. Instead, I was to merely hint at a problem, not point it out. I was terrible. I'm a geek. I'm outspoken. I can't help it. I see it as being part of a team. I couldn't 'get it'.

I had this problem because I too suffered from the Pygmalian Effect. I was a leader in a follower position. It almost broke me I stayed too long. I was acting a role that suited those around me. I developed low confidence, feelings of repression and general disrespect.

The truth was I needed to go stand up on my own. I needed to take the plunge and take a leader position, or get out. I had to believe I had the chops or find something else that could allow me to be who I was. With the support of the confidence a few key Filmmakers had in me, I took the door. I felt unready to take the lead at a full fledged union show level, but I felt that inevitably it was my only path.

This was when I discovered something really important about myself. I did go and get my own no-budget indie gig. I was really good at it! I blossomed. I came out of my shell. I was assertive. I became the real me. I felt it in my heart. Everyone loved my ideas, my confidence was completely restored. It was a huge rush.  I went home feeling like I was king of the world, and I wasn't paid a dime. Everything that was wrong with my career psychology was all of a sudden put right. I saw the light.

The lesson I want to share is this: If you are this small person, and you know in your heart you are a leader, and you are playing the low-expectation game, Don't ignore who you really are. Work towards it. Play the game if it makes life easier, but never give up on following who you really are.

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