Self-Conscious vs. Other-Conscious

Austin Butler was a shy kid. “I would whisper to my mom and say, ‘Could you order this for me?’ and she would order for me at a restaurant.” He lacked a way of expressing himself, he confesses in a recent Actors Roundtable.

When he was 12, however, he walked onto a movie set, and his life would never be the same. What started as a small gig being an extra on kid’s shows like Drake & Josh eventually became a full-fledged acting career, including a role in a Tarantino movie and, most recently, the portrayal of Elvis Presley, which won him a slew of awards, including a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

But it all started back then, when an awkward teenager realized: “You can only focus on so much at once. All those times that I’m self-conscious or insecure, if I can get my attention off of myself and onto how I’m trying to affect someone else, then I’m not self-conscious. I’m other-conscious.”

The free chocolate chip cookies at lunch, having found his kind of people, finally being able to communicate with the world through some medium — all of those things were great, but the realization that, yes, acting is a noble art, a true service one can perform for others, that’s what eventually kept Austin in the game.

When our worries are too big, chances are, our sense of self is just inflated. Let the air out. Forget about your balloon, and start handing out balloons to others. Whether you’re a 15-year-old trying to find your place in the world or an award-winning actor ready to tackle your next big thing, life flows more easily when you’re other-conscious — and being at a restaurant is the most fun when you order for everyone, not just yourself.