Embracing my unique skill set

Nicola – Melbourne, Australia

I’ve regularly suffered from imposter syndrome and the feeling that wherever I was, I wasn’t enough.

When I was an actor, I didn’t consider myself a real actor because I didn’t live and breathe acting the way others did. I studied Arts not Performing Arts. I wasn’t as willing to pull crazy stunts like other actors. I wasn’t as loud or as funny or as… anything.

After I left acting and began my first corporate gig, I never mentioned I used to be an actor. I thought I wouldn’t be taken seriously or people would think I was stupid or they’d ask that awful question “What would I have seen you in?” (A word to readers: please DON’T ask an actor that question.)

Working a ‘real’ job, I once again felt I didn’t fit in. I hadn’t done a Business degree. I hadn’t worked in the corporate sector before. I was just me and that didn’t seem impressive enough.

It took me a long time—10 years!—to embrace the unique skill set I owned and to understand how I could use that at work; how it would add serious value to my employability and how much better I’d feel owning those qualities.

A few things you should know about actors in a professional services context:

  • They can have excellent memories
  • They can present well
  • They can build relationships quickly and easily because no profession says “please like me” like acting
  • They understand people. So much of acting is character work, stepping in the shoes of someone else and understanding how they think, feel, why they act the way they do
  • They can deal with criticism. No-one says no as often or as rudely as in the entertainment industry
  • They’re self-motivators. Ain’t no-one calling you for a job. You got to get out there and make your own way.
  • They can be vulnerable. Actors aren’t afraid of emotions. It’s their bread and butter. You can bring your whole self to work and trust they’ll be able to handle it.

So where has this knowledge led me? I have found a space for myself in many different workplaces—corporate, Government, not-for-profit. I’ve been able to explore my own skills and add to them. I’ve further developed my skills in communication, facilitation, community and stakeholder engagement and design thinking.

I’ve found my place and I don’t shy away from telling people, “hey I used to be an actor,” because now I know it’s my secret weapon.

Are You Being True To Yourself? Use my Reflective Enquiry Tool to find out.

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