I got into my dream school!!! Ahhh!!!!!
I got into my safety school. Meh.
If you find yourself in either scenario, congratulations on your acceptance! No matter where you find yourself, you will probably notice that at some point, your expectations aren’t meeting your reality. I’ve been thinking about expectations in my own career and how it applies to you all who have been working your tails off in your college auditions. Let’s take a moment for some real talk about what each of these acceptance scenarios can mean and how you can prepare for your high or low expectations.
High expectations can push us to achieve dreams we wouldn’t otherwise achieve! They can make us work harder and take bigger risks. They can also let us down when those expectations become unrealistic. Low expectations or no expectations can feel safe. They can ground us in reality. It can also feel great when those expectations are exceeded. No matter what your perspective may be, either of these scenarios comes with challenges.
Let’s imagine you get into your dream school and it’s the perfect fit. At some point in your journey, you’re likely to hit a snag - an argument with your new best friend, a roommate who always eats your leftovers, a campus that makes you feel insignificant, or a teacher who challenges your talent. Don’t let these get you down. You have achieved something amazing by getting this far. In my first year of college, my roommate drama was far more than I had signed up for and it severed friendships. It took me a while to make new friends. I signed myself up for so many credit hours and artistic commitments that I had a few emotional breakdowns. I went through a breakup. And all of that was totally normal.
Expect that no matter how perfect your school may be in your mind, there are moments it will let you down. Expect to be challenged harder than you ever have been. Expect to be frustrated. Expect to be disappointed. Expect to wonder if you made the right choice. If you don’t have those feelings, that’s awesome, but odds are you will experience some of these feelings at some point. Even the dream school can’t promise you four years with no disappointments. And don’t fear - those disappointments are the best preparation for the long road ahead.
Now, let’s imagine you are let down by your school choices. You didn’t get into the dream school; maybe you got into your safety school, or you got into a good school, but not in the program you really wanted. You can expect everything the person in the dream school expected. And you know what else? You may also be completely surprised. Sometimes we don’t end up where we wanted, but where we end up is better than we ever expected.
You may find that you have a knack for something completely different than you ever realized. The person who was on your decision committee might have wanted you more than anyone else and they end up being the mentor you didn’t know you needed. Maybe you wanted to be a BFA, but you got into a BA program and now you are taking outside classes that spark your creativity and imagination in ways you wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I had a student a few years ago who got into a great acting program, but was disappointed she didn’t get accepted into the MT program. I introduced her to a friend of mine who taught vocal jazz and an artistic match was made. After being exposed to new techniques and music, she has found a love for a new singing style.
When you’re a high schooler, you’re asked, “What’s your dream school?” When you’re an actor, you’re asked, “What are your dream roles?” My answer: I don’t really have any. The roles that have been my favorite roles or most exciting theatrical experiences have been a complete surprise. Your life will take you to unexpected places. Whether or not you go to your dream school, you are going to have a wild ride. You’ve chosen to be an artist and there’s nothing else like it.
So, what are realistic expectations? That is a debate that has spanned the length of time. Should we live in a sort of fantasy to persevere through a less than exceptional reality or should we accept reality as it is so we can take realistic actions? All of this is really up to you. The best answer I’ve come up with for myself is this… I can only rely on living up to my personal expectations. Here are some expectations I have for myself. And, no, I don’t always meet them.
When faced with challenges, focus on what you can learn.
Encourage art in others.
Lead with love.
Surround yourself with people who make you better.
Find the value in the person/artist you are today.
Acting for the Song Coach - My College Audition
Erica is a NYC based actress and an Acting for the Song Coach for My College Audition. www.ericaspyres.com
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