With my younger sister being a Junior in college, I just had the startling revelation: I have been out of college for 3 years now. And with that revelation came a whole lot of self-deprecating realizations. Most of them dealing with my career…or lack of one.
I remember when I was a senior, I made a game plan. And one of the bullet points on my game plan, was to be an equity actress within 5 years. And 3 of those 5 years are already gone. If I were a pie, I would have 2 slices left…then 1. And we all know how fast that last slice can go if you are not paying attention.
So I decided to take some time and take stock of where my life is and where I want to go. But most importantly, I began thinking of how to get there. And I drew a blank. A complete and absolute blank. What happened to the game plan I had? All of the ideas? The carefully laid out 4 pages of bullet points and references and websites and dreams?! Well, all of those things were still there…including the 4 pages of bullet points and references and websites and dreams saved in my Google Drive. And as I scrolled through the pages I had to cross just about all of them off.
As I did so, at first I felt pragmatic. “It’s financially impossible for me to see a Broadway show every 2 months. And if I were to lotto it or do standing room…the money I spend getting to the city and time I spend waiting in line, and the work that I will have to miss might not be worth it”.
Then I felt resigned. “I would love to go to an audition a week, but again the time and the money. And yea, I would love to audition for Camelot, but in all honesty I don’t exactly fit the Guenevere profile”.
And finally, pathetic. “What fricking time do I have to read and analyze a play, then memorize a monologue. I don’t even have the mental capacity to finish 1 chapter from my Bleach manga”.
When I was done, I sat there contemplating how in only 3 years, I could stray so far from all of my plans and dreams. How I, a girl with a college degree, is still living at home, just making ends meet by the end of the month with 2 jobs, and feeling guilty whenever I purchase myself a $1 cup of coffee. And I realized a trend in my actions.
I don’t have time because all I do is work. I work because I don’t have money. Solution: get more money.
And so I spend what free time I have scouring the internet for higher paying jobs, hoping that my degree will get me up into the $40,000 range. And I began applying for jobs, feeling elated that I was receiving call backs, and responses…and I was lying my ass off.
“Yes, I have always wanted to work with children and teach them Social History”.
“I believe I would be an amazing asset to your company, and a strong player in your marketing department”.
“I could not see myself doing anything other than fielding phone calls from irate patients for $16 an hour”.
And with each application sent, my mind felt at ease, feeling like I was getting somewhere. But, not to be all esoteric, but I could feel my soul plummet further and further. But what I was doing was necessary. I needed to make more money if I want to support my true career. If I wanted to get back on track with my plans.
And of course I realized another thing: with a 9-5 what time do you have to be doing ANYTHING? There goes those random 5am train rides to NY to get in line for a casting call. There goes that weird 12-1 slot that you sometimes have during the week to do a community theatre audition. There goes all of your opportunities to get yourself out there. Which led me to a crossroads.
Do I get a 9-5, and squeeze what acting I can into my schedule? Will me being able to actually make use of my savings account, make up for the fact that I miss an audition that I might get considered for?
Do I continue working a hodgepodge of jobs? Work random hours with no clear schedule, and hope that I find enough time in one week to maybe squeeze and audition in? On top of being dead tired?
Neither of these options were ever in my plans. But I had to realize something. The best laid out plans can be easily crushed by reality. And boy, reality stomped, stamped, and body slammed my plans into the dirt. Which led me to a decision:
I would rather spend my life working crap jobs for crap pay until I make it (because I will…there is no other option for me, even if I don’t make it until I am 79), than sit behind a desk and wish that I had of taken more opportunities.
Yes I am 3 years out of college and I am not an Equity actress. But I also need to ease up on myself. Plans are fun to make, but harder to practice…especially when you truly realize that dreams of your Tonys and Oscars will not fix your car, pay your rent, or put food in your stomach.
So I wrote all of this to say really one thing: If you are like me, a millennial who was told that you can be what you can be if you work hard enough, I call bullshit. Well not the entire statement, but it needs an amendment. What needs to be added is “But don’t worry if it takes you time”, or some type of Rome wasn’t built in a day cliche.
So my fellow thespians! Keep up the good work. You are not alone. Be like Pocahontas and do not choose the path steady as a beating drum. Have those weird 9 hour long shifts that make your feet cry by the end of the night. Read reviews of plays if you are too tired to actually read the play but want to at least feel like you are making an effort. Make lists of shows you want to be in. Attend those late night, set in a dingy basement stage readings if you can.. I would rather do all of these things than sit behind a desk and say the same repetitive thing over and over.
If I am going to say the same thing over and over…it better win me a Tony.