Wednesday, 13 June 2012

You're good enough

It's one of life's biggest dilemmas: You're pursuing a career you feel for, one that you know you were meant to do, yet rejection keeps meeting every attempt you make.  After a certain number of rejections the idealism erodes and most people resign to a mundane or safe choice like accounting or engineering; and in most cases it's something they couldn't care less about.

Maybe I'm not made for this, you start thinking out aloud to yourself.  The idealism of doing what you love for a living gets replaced by the reality of having obligations and responsibilities to tend to.  You lower your aim to something that can earn a good, stable income.  Anything more, you concede, is for the lucky or well connected.

Actor Michael Fassbender has been in many blockbusters lately, but his start to acting was anything but stellar.  As a 19 year old student at the Drama Centre in London, he found the first three or four years "very sticky between paying drama school fees and surviving."  His first acting role of substance came in 2001 in HBO's Band of Brothers.  The rest, as they say....was more struggle.  Subsequent offers didn't come as he expected.  "I came to Los Angeles and did auditions for television.  I made a terrible mess of most of them and I was quite intimidated," he recalls. "I felt very embarrassed and went back to London. I got British television jobs intermittently between the ages of 23 and 27, but it was very patchy."

Between the erratic once-off roles he managed to land, Fassbender took on odd jobs like unloading trucks and bartending to survive.  He even had a stint following up on complainants who weren't happy with their service from the Royal Mail, to see if they were satisfied with the manner in which their grievances were dealt with.

After much uphill, today we find him as the alpha male in movies like X-Men: First Class and Prometheus.  People wrongly feel that they need to go for broke and sacrifice everything if they are to achieve something worthwhile.  Michael Fassbender didn't feed on restaurant leftovers or doggedly assert that he would rather die than earn his living without acting.  He persisted with his search for acting roles, yes, but while he sought those roles he was practical and did other things to sustain himself.  In the midst of unloading trucks and listening to incessant complaints on the phone, he kept his vision vivid and his dream alive.

There's no guarantee what you want will happen - that's the truth - but there's no reason to give up on it either.  You can keep pursuing your objective, the one you truly want, and the only time you will fail is when you quit.  You don't know when it will happen, how it will happen or even if it will happen at all, but if you quit then it's because you chose to, not because you were forced to.  "My goal was for acting to become my main income.  I would say to myself, 'I'm good enough.'  That became my mantra."

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