Sometimes I just gotta stay away from Facebook these days. There is a documented phenomenon (I know it’s true, ’cause I read about it in Psychology Today) called “Facebook Envy”, and I must admit it hits me when I check my newsfeed and it seems like my VO Peeps are landing more gigs, way more impressive gigs, and making tons of money all the time.
Sigh. And – oh yeah- Yay! I truly am happy for your success. Really. But, sometimes, the old green-eyed monster rears up, and its name is Voice-Over Envy.
And it’s a really stupid monster!
Voice-Over Jealousy – or Admiration?
Yoko Ono is credited with saying: “Turn jealousy into admiration and what you admire will become part of your life.” Whoever originated that quote (Yoko, really?) , it’s really cool. I actually used that thought process to go from single Mom to happily re-married Mom/wife, from wanna-be-published author to a published one. And it’s useful in any life endeavor; it’s the backbone of gatherings like faffcon, of the VO social media groups, of the newly-forming industry association, World Voices.
So – why not just be inspired by the success of others? It’s that old realization: we compare others’ outsides to our own insides. Their seeming instant success to our own internal struggles. As I read recently (yeah, on Facebook), it’s others’ highlight reels to our own behind-the scenes.
So – what’s the antidote?
Abundance VO Thinking.
You know what? One other person’s success takes nothing away from ours. There is plenty of work for everyone in this business – everyone who is good, and who does the work to connect. And one person’s network career is another talent’s e-learning lock-in (we love your voice! can you do a few more projects for us?)
And we’ve got to stop comparing.
Truth is – I am damn proud of my voiceover career. And thrilled that I have been able to raise a family, pay my mortgage on time, grow as an artist, meet my clients’ needs, and adapt to an ever-changing business by doing what I love – and getting better at it every year.
In my companion career as a “visual” actor (you know, stage, film, TV on-camera), I’ve always been amused by the fact that most people are much more impressed by, say, an Under-5 I did on All My Children than by a 28-week run of a theatre show. And so it is in voice-over. I may have voiced a bunch of great stuff this week about global compliance, soybean rust, and “hits of the 80’s”, but the 5-second spot on NBC’s Fashion Star is the one that makes people go WOW – both in and out of the industry. But, as I’ve written before, I’m proud to be a bread-and-butter voice actor, happy to hear from my agents but not at the mercy of waiting for their e-mails to obtain work.
Yep – all true. But why does the less-sensible part of me have 2 reactions to the news that a colleague is up for a major TV spot? (send good thoughts that I land the gig!!!! – um, yeah, sure….really. I will). Happiness for their success (angel on one shoulder), and envy that someone else got the job I was up for (guess who, on the other)? Why him/her, why not me? You know, Wahhhh-mobile arrives.
The answer, of course, has to do with:
- uniqueness (which works for us when the match is right)
- opportunity (right place, right time)
- talent/skills (something we all work on, all the time)
- hard work
- …and a little bit of fate. Yes.
Sure, there’s more we’d like to accomplish in the field. But the standards must be ours, and not controlled by the careers we imagine others to have based on Facebook posts.
Abundance mentality. Abundance Thinking. (not Scarcity thinking). There is plenty of work, for all who work. And every single gig is something to be proud of – even if we don’t post it on the newsfeeds. But, sometimes, you just gotta. So go ahead. I will root for you and celebrate your success! But excuse me for a minute, while I slam the door on the little green monster who wants in on the party.
Jerry Reed says
Wow, that monster has been at my house all winter. I’m ready to put him on the next train to an undisclosed destination with no return ticket.
J.S. Gilbert says
It’s the spin Randye. Every day I’m up for hundreds of things. But if the producers brother-in-law is up for one of them, well, that’s probably not one I’m likely to get.
After a while, you stop thinking about who’s doing what and why, because I believe that just as the universe operates via “random chaos”, so do our lives (to a large extent). We do what we feel we need to do, but as we know, nothing in life is truly “fair”. “Fair” is a rather false construct.
One thing I know, if I were to believe all of the carefully sculpted b.s, hyperbole and other lies that frequent the internet, particularly the v.o. community, I’d have died gagging on my own vomit, long ago.
The more I tend to read online about the lives that voice over talent live, the more I realize, I’m probably not a voice over talent at all. My life tends not to resemble the world I see described, and I am very thankful for that.
I think things would look and sound very differently, if individuals were forced to show their income tax returns when making vague, sweeping statements. But really, that’s their issue and not mine and it shouldn’t be yours.
If it brings you comfort though, every time you read a post from somebody, ask yourself, “where is the proof?”. Are they actually making a verifiable or quantifiable statement? Popping a $25 local car spot might be just the ticket for the retired postal worker living in his family home in Baton Rouge, but when that person says “I’ve been getting quite a bit of really cool v.o. work”, what does that mean?
We know that less than 5% of the represented actors who are in SAG/ AFTRA are making less than $10,000 per year doing v.o. Not that it should matter, but I’m also guessing that quite a few “v.o. talent” are also working as online French Models, “Bonjour”.
Paul Payton says
A mentor of mine – OK, Alan Sklar – told me, “There’s a market for everyone. Your job is to figure out what yours is and get to where the money for it is being paid.” I’m parap[hrasing, but he’s right. It doesn’t matter if it’s glamorous or not – if it’s good work that I’m doing well, I’m happy – and there is plenty to go around.
Great post, Randye; as always, your perception is spot-on.
PS – I’ve got to create a tag listlike yours…it is thorough and outstanding.
Chuck Davis says
Beautifully written Randye. We all have visits from that beast. It’s always about focusing on your development and talents. Cheer on your colleagues and don’t let a quiet week force you all up inside your own head.
Thanks for being a voice to what most of us are also thinking. I choose to work from the abundance mentality in the voiceover acting world too, when possible too, but sometimes, you just revert to the 6 year old, who wants the bigger piece of cake! We can relate.
Ann Richardson says
Very neat, Randye. I, too, practice the abundance mentality, altho sometimes it takes waaay more concentration than at others. I also have found it true that when I’m feeling down or wallowing in that pity pool, turning around and trying to help someone else takes my mind off of things, and when I step back, I find I feel tons better! Thanks for putting this positive gem out there in our community.
Randye Kaye says
wow, guys – what a great discussion this is turning out to be! thanks for all your comments so far. you rock!
Laura Branch-Mireles says
As a self-proclaimed “MommyVox” myself, I can’t thank you enough for reminding me to stay the course on this wonderful career path. You are an inspiration!
Marc Scott says
Love this post Randye.
I celebrate all of the successes of my fellow talents, but I also know I have to make a conscious effort not to be envious of them.
We all have our place. The projects that we’re perfect for. And you’re absolutely correct in saying there is plenty of work for everyone!
Randall Rensch says
Pretty much agreed with all statements here. I recently heard an author characterize Facebook not as a “social communication” site, but as a means to portray one’s life as rosy, probably better than it really is. The implication was that that aspect of Facebook is unhealthy.
I’m not so sure that even that is necessarily bad. I had already found myself filtering my posts from that viewpoint, and will probably continue to do so. It’s not a denial of reality; rather, if truthful, it’s counting one’s blessings.
It’s also a skill important in voice-over. Being a VO artist is a business. What business doesn’t represent itself in the best possible (yet truthful) light? Even among our closer friends (among maybe many hundreds of “Friends” who are really only acquaintances), a positive attitude is generally more appreciated.
In any case, Facebook serves a purpose beyond building one’s spinning skills. It’s right in line with your larger point about Abundance Thinking:
Most of us tend to fall into a limited pattern of activity and interests. Seeing what others have done lately reminds me to expand both. I’ll probably still prefer reading about the cicada life cycle to climbing over Machu Picchu (neither of which has much practical benefit), but I do appreciate the passive kick in the pants. Or, let’s make that a tug on my sleeve.
And if a friend hasn’t mentioned on Facebook that their life has otherwise been rather humdrum or less than happy, well, that’s also important to know. But, in the context of friendship, that’s one of many reasons why it’s important also to maintain personal contact. It works both ways. There’s an abundance of things to learn and do. And an abundance of ways you can help or support.
All of which applies in the business context, too.
I’m really jealous of this blog. Now I hate mine!
I mean, I’m glad you wrote it and everything, but why didn’t I think of it?
Debbie Irwin says
Was it Buddha who said, “Virtue lies in the middle path?”
Best to look less to the right or left and more to the center– inside and out.
Thanks for the reminder.
Sammy Barker says
Some of the quotes in this article are so inspiring – I’ll be sure to make a note of them… including ‘Turn jealousy into admiration and what you admire will become part of your life’ and ‘The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes to everyone else?s highlight reel’. great stuff – Thank you!