I’ve been thinking a lot since writing my blog, About Quitting. I can’t tell you how helpful this honesty has been. It’s initiated several important conversations and I thank each of you who have responded with encouragement and insight into this time of my life.
I think one of the biggest things I realized in writing my last blog is that I wasn’t happy. For something that costs so much (mentally, physically, emotionally) that I wasn’t finding rewarding… Why? Why? Why was I doing it? After I wrote that blog, my husband challenged me to answer that question. If I’m not doing it for the love of acting, then I should quit.
What is enough?
One of the biggest realizations I’ve had is that, when pursuing acting (business or artistic side), I never feel like I’ve done enough. I never feel good enough. I’m still trying to prove myself. I keep trying to prove I’m a professional, that this isn’t just a “hobby.” I’ve desperately needed the affirmation that the sacrifices I’ve made have been worth it; that I’m good enough to be cast and pursue this career. All these people say you have to go into auditions not “needing” to be cast. As much as that makes sense to me, I’ve never really gotten there. I need to get cast to be happy. As a result, I’ve put my happiness into the hands of people who don’t care about me personally, only about what I can do for them.
There will always be someone wealthier, more successful, working more, more famous than I. If I’m not happy where I’m at, then I won’t ever be. It’s like a drug. We can end up like junkies, not even happy with the drug when we get it, always wanting more. If we treat it that way, it will never be enough.
Change the Relationship
Recently, I had coffee with a lovely fellow artist who is going through a very similar process right now. She likened acting to a romantic relationship. She pointed out that if we were dating someone who used us, beat us up (emotionally or physically) and took more than he/she gave, that would be an abusive relationship and our friends and loved ones would tell us to get the hell out of there! Yet, here we are in this relationship with our art which can turn abusive, yet we stay in it because we can’t quit the dream. Maybe it doesn’t mean breaking up, but it does mean something has to change.
I’m talking about freeing myself from the vice grip an acting career has over my life. What would it look like to reorient my life and focus? I don’t want to be happy only when I book a job, and sometimes not even then. I am making a conscious decision to change my relationship with my career; it will look different from now on.
Back to Basics
What do I love doing?
- being with the people I love
- making something out of nothing
- engaging in stories: listening to, watching, and telling
- giving back/serving
- building community
- exploring people and relationships
Am I giving up? YES, I am giving up:
- feeling like I am never enough
- needing other people’s affirmation or approval to be happy
- letting titles define me
- being controlled by the whims of people who have little vested interest in my well-being
- trying to see my career through other people’s eyes
- making decisions based on what is only “professionally” advantageous
- chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow= “Making it!”
I am NOT giving up:
- trying new things
- pursuing projects and people I enjoy
- running with an idea until I can’t run anymore
- doing it, just because I love it!
The other day, my husband pointed out that the root of the word “amateur” comes from the Latin word, amator meaning ‘lover.’ The meaning has taken on a negative connotation over the years, but at the root it describes someone who does something because they love it. If I am an amateur actor for the rest of my life, that will be a life well lived.
I’m getting back to the reason I started acting in the first place. For the LOVE!
P.S. If you want to participate with me in doing something for the love, come see Julius Caesar this or next weekend. We are doing this show purely for the love of telling this story… and giving it away for free! Yes, I am shamelessly promoting this show, because it has brought me back to this truth: Beauty can result from doing something, just because you love it!