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5 Surprising Reasons You Should Join an Acting Class

5 Surprising Reasons You Should Join an Acting Class

Acting class isn’t reserved for aspiring Broadway actors and actresses. Keep reading to discover how acting classes can help you improve your communication skills, develop self-confidence, and relieve stress.

Why I Decided to Take an Acting Class

I went to my first acting class during my senior year of high school, which required every student to play a part in a school play. The idea of performing in front of my peers terrified me at the time, because I was worried I might forget my lines, or have a fit of hysteria, faint, and fall off the stage. You might be wondering what possessed me to take an acting class if the idea filled me with such trepidation. To answer that question, we have go time-travel all the way back to my teenage years.

As a teenager, I was crippled by shyness. Meeting new people made me so nervous that I wished I could disappear. Talking to girls stressed me out so much that it made me break a sweat. Confronting a bully, or speaking up for myself, just isn’t something that I had the confidence to do. But confident or not, I was emotionally intelligent enough to realize I had a problem that needed to be fixed.

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    Here’s a photo of me playing Antipholus of Ephesus in a production of “The Comedy of Errors” at Milligan College in 2009.

    How Acting Class Improved My Life

    I’m happy to report that my acting adventure was a smashing success, minus the occasional wardrobe malfunction (trust me when I say, you don’t want to know). What was meant to be a single semester of high school theater class blossomed into a new hobby and passion that I pursue to this day. Below are the top five benefits I experienced during my time in acting class.

    1. I learned to communicate with people more effectively.

    “Huh?” is an expression I used to hear, oh, just about every time I said a word to anybody. Let me explain: I live in the south, where most people have a tendency to talk at a slow pace, effectively drawing out every word they say. Somehow, I grew up to speak in the exact opposite manner: with a quick, clipped pace. Add in the facts that I spoke in a whisper (fear of speaking up) and avoided eye contact (lack of confidence), and you can see how it might have been hard for anybody to understand the words that were coming out of my mouth.

    At the time, it was frustrating, because I thought nobody cared enough to listen to me. But now, I understand that the blame laid solely with me; it wasn’t that they didn’t care, it was that I wasn’t communicating effectively. Acting teachers are masters of diction and dialogue: you will discover how to enunciate so everyone can hear (understand) you, experiment with new tones that add meaning to your vocalizations, and become more confident in the unique voice you have.

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    2. I became more confident in my body.

    I used to have a lot of strange body tics. By “body tics,” I mean certain things I did (in some cases still do on a minor scale) with my body when I am stressed due to an uncomfortable situation, or being put on the spot (like when your acting teacher tells you, “Perform this monologue in front of a bunch of strangers,” for example). Things like…

    • When talking to another person, I avoided making eye contact with them and looked at the ground.
    • When seated, I made myself look very small by crossing my legs, rounding my back, and lacing my fingers.
    • When standing to perform a monologue or scene, I had no idea what to do with my body, and often resorted to fidgeting.

    A brilliant acting teacher named Evalyn Baron at the Barter Theater helped me learn to feel more comfortable in my body than ever before. I’ll never forget something she told me at the end of one of our classes together:

    “A tense instrument cannot fully express itself.”

    Evalyn believed in her statement so much that she began every class with a series of activities built to relax our bodies with things like breathing exercises, meditation, and  yoga poses. While you probably shouldn’t expect such thorough treatment in any acting class you take, a little yoga and meditation at home would be a nice supplemental exercise for you to do.

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    3. Relieve stress and tension through creative expression.

    Whether you walk into acting class after a stressful day at work or crappy day at school, you will be able to drop off some baggage while you’re there. Some dramatic scenes require you to tap into passionate emotions like anger, despair, hatred, love, shame, and yearning. While this is far from easy for any beginning actor, you’ll become more comfortable tapping into your full emotional range as time goes on. Many acting classes will require you to prepare your own monologue, which is a great opportunity to express some feelings that have been held in, as you could select a monologue that makes you think about whatever you’re going through in the real life (effectively giving you a much-needed emotional outlet where no holds are barred).

    4. Understand that it is okay to be vulnerable.

    Remember how I mentioned that I used to be as shy as it gets? Getting on stage and doing ridiculous things in front of an audience of strangers (like performing a scene only in your knickers, for examplehas a way of making you get over those silly inhibitions. In addition, performing a romantic scene (that could involve a kiss) with an acting partner could help you become more comfortable with expressing your true feelings to a current or potential life partner.

    5. Make new friends in a positive, dynamic, fun environment.

    If it wasn’t for acting class and my time in the theater, I wouldn’t even know a lot of my friends exist. You can expect to meet many different “types” of people people who come from a variety of ages, backgrounds, and worldviews. I often took a brief walk to a bar down the road after class with my new friends, where we enjoyed a little bit of booze and a lot of deep conversation, which I fondly look back on as some of my most fun life experiences. You can expect to become quite close to your new friends in acting class, as you’ll all be actively working to improve your communication, body confidence, and ability to express your emotions. Working on these things together has a way of creating an emotional connection you will grow to be thankful for.

    Take an acting class—you won’t regret it!

    I feel confident in saying that going to acting class changed my life for the better. I don’t get as nervous when I introduce myself to people I haven’t met at parties. I’m able to express myself more clearly with better diction and more enunciation. I feel more comfortable and “at home” in the body that is mine and mine alone.

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    If you’ve ever been to an acting class, or you’re a working actor professionally or in the community theater, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree with the benefits listed here? What else would you include on this list? If you would like to act but are too nervous, too scared, or too worried about what might happen… what’s holding you back?

    Featured photo credit: Inside the Acting for Film & Television Campus/Vancouver Film School via flickr.com

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    Daniel Wallen

    Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

    The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

    1. Understand Yourself Better

    Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

    Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

    2. Keep Track of Small Changes

    I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

    Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

    3. Become Aware of What Matters

    As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

    You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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    4. Boost Creativity

    The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

    When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

    You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

    5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

    A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

    Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

    6. Process Life Experiences

    When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

    Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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    7. Stress Relief

    In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

    Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

    8. Provide Direction

    Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

    One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

    9. Solve Problems

    Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

    Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

    When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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    10. Find Relief From Fighting

    Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

    Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

    11. Find Meaning in Life

    Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

    12. Allow Yourself to Focus

    Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

    13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

    When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

    14. Let the Past Go

    I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

    15. Allow Freedom

    Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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    16. Enhance Your Career

    Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

    Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

    17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

    All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

    18. Catalog Your Life for Others

    No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

    We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

    Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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