How to Deal with “The Questions”

Are You Ready for *The Questions*?

We’re knee-deep in the holiday season, and if you’re like a lot of actors (myself included), going to visit family can often bring up some actor-specific insecurities

Maybe you’ve had the holiday tunes blaring and ironed your tackiest sweater, but as you pull into the driveway of that annual family gathering, you feel yourself tense up from head to toe. You can almost hear Aunt Kathy diving into her annual edition of The Questions, and nothing could make you want to drag your feet more… 

“What have you been in this year?”

“Are you in anything I can watch?”

“Why don’t you just get on that show “Billions”?”

“When are you getting a real job?”

Just like that, any semblance of cheer in your spirit flies out the window. (I honestly felt myself getting defensive just typing those.) 

The Questions often made me dread that seemingly inevitable part of family visits. More often than not, I ended up feeling bad about myself – especially if I didn’t have any super exciting news to share. It was after one of those post-holiday dips that I realized something. While I couldn’t stop my (well-meaning) family and “civilian” friends from asking certain questions, I DID have the power to change my reaction to them. I no longer wanted to give others control over how I felt about myself.

And if you know anything about me by now, it’s that I do not shy away from the icky topics. I am big proponent of having a strategy in place ahead of time to deal with things like jealousy and rejection. Now, in the interest of surviving this holiday season, here are my top 3 tips for dealing with The Questions when visiting family:

1. Be ready to share.

Before you visit your family, think about what you’ve been working on in your career. Did you finally get in some audition rooms this year that you’ve been trying to get into? Did you find an amazing class that has helped you blossom in your acting craft? Have you been building relationships with casting directors? Or did you start freelancing with an agent? These are all great things to share, and show that you’re serious about your career.

2. Try not to take it personally.

Remember that your uncle and cousin probably don’t understand the industry. Their questions are most likely well-intentioned – they just aren’t familiar with how the biz works to be aware of what to ask. If you can reframe your inner response to their questions from “They’re judging me” to “They’re taking an interest in what I do”, it could make a big difference in your own experience.

3. Accept and let go.

We actors live crazy, beautiful, remarkable lives. And the way we measure success is very different from how other people who aren’t actors would. Not everyone will get that, and that’s okay. As actors, we also understand emotions and relationships on a deeper level than most. The wonderful gift of that is, we can empathize with our family and friends and acknowledge our own feelings at the same time. If you know what success looks like for you, your cousin’s definition of it can lose its power over you. This can make it easier for you to let it go.

What are some tips you have for dealing with The Questions? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Remember to enjoy your downtime with your family, eat some treats, sing your heart out, and catch up on your sleep. 2019 is just around the corner!

Happy Holidays!