Performing magic is all about presenting an image. Not only do magicians present alternate versions of reality, they also present an alternative version of themselves. Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic, famously (among magicians!) said, “A magician is merely an actor playing the part of a magician.”
This can be true to a greater or lesser extent: some magicians have on-stage personas that are very similar to their everyday characters, others are completely different.
How we are able to present ourselves to the world is underpinned by how we view ourselves. There is normally a difference. However, if there is a huge disparity between our “front stage” and our “back stage” then, sooner or later, we are going to experience problems, maybe even mental health problems.
‘Ere We Ego Again
We are all constantly comparing ourselves to others to see how we measure up. If someone says they don’t do this then they are probably lying!
Am I as thin as that person? Am I as rich as this person? They are more successful than me, more popular than me , cleverer than me, more skilled than me, get more gigs than me… it goes on. Magicians are notoriously fragile of ego, but this applies across the board.
To whom we are actually comparing ourselves?
Hush the Air Brush
It could well be that we are not comparing ourselves to real people at all. I have done this. It is all too easy to construct an image of an ideal person who is cleverer/ more successful/ more attractive/ etc than you. But that is all they are, an image, an “ideal” created in your mind. Pause to check whether any real people you know of actually match up to that ideal.
Similarly, it is quite possible that we are comparing ourselves to air-brushed versions of real people.
We all know that the magazine cover model has been re-touched to make them look like an “ideal” person, whatever that is. This is to make us feel inadequate, to induce us to buy something to achieve that ideal ourselves, or so we think. Even if we know this in our heads, it is all too easy to react on instinct and be taken in by it. It is worth reflecting regularly to see if we are falling prey to this kind of thing.
However, comparing ourselves to real versions of successful people can actually be useful. If they work in the same or a similar field to us we can learn a lot by looking at their success.
The key is not to get discouraged. It is all too easy to feel that we could never achieve the same as them, that it would be impossible for us. I try to combat this by asking myself, “How are they actually different to me?”
If I see a magician with huge success on the stage, performing close-up magic or jetting off to exotic locations I ask myself, “Could I perform those tricks?” The answer is that, if I bought the props and practiced enough, there is no reason why not.
Secondly I ask, “How did they get that gig?” It probably boils down to contacts, networking, marketing and a bit of luck. Could I do those things? Well, if I put in the time and effort I probably could. Suddenly their achievements don’t seem quite so unattainable. They are just further down the road.
You are a unique individual on your own special journey. No-one else’s journey even compares.