Survival job is not a term I hear very often these days. I heard it almost every day in New York. It was most always in reference to the job you held to make a living but not the job you wanted. It is a common term used by artist, actors, and musicians but not limited to just them, especially in a city like New York where everybody has got a job AND a dream (thanks, Lin Manuel Miranda for that lyric).I was hoping to avoid working in the service industry when I moved here. I didn't want to wait tables any more. Any one who has served will understand why. However, it is without a doubt one of the best ways to earn a very comfortable living with little commitment and focus and a easy, flexible schedule. The main issue I have always had with it is that it's looked down upon. It's the job you have when you have no other skills. Which is completely untrue. I've worked next to brilliant people who are studying for medical degrees or a masters in psychology. People who have been in Broadway shows and have book deals in the works. Again, that is what survival jobs are for. They fill in the blanks.That unfortunately does not make it any easier to be living the big city life and then move back to your home state and serve your high school friends who have 'real' jobs and wonder what the hell you are doing asking for their drink order. The. Most. Awkward.**Though everyone I have seen has been the most lovely and non judgmental, it's still hard.I lucked out getting a serving job at one of the most popular restaurants in Burlington. The restaurants here differ greatly then those I worked at in Manhattan. I won't list all the differences (there are many) but some highlights are: most are open only for dinner (no doubles), shifts are normally less than 8 hours, staffs are small, food is consistent and fresh, kitchens close before midnight, and the clientele are pretty lovely, easy going, 20% tippers.No one calls it a survival job. It's just a job. The coworkers I have are mostly 6-10 years younger than me; some still in college, some just barely out. They don't call it a survival job because it's just their job for right now. Of course they have other interests and several are pursuing degrees in various fields but not enough that it's a second full time job like pursuing a career in the arts is. It's just their job.I remember when I had just a job when I was in high school and college and I acted the same way. I went to work and hung out with my close childhood friends when I wasn't punching the clock. Some of my coworkers hang out together and they all go out most nights but of course they do. They are in their twenties. That what you do in your twenties. We went out after work in the city because we just hustled for 14 hours and are starving and had to deal with the worst guests on the planet and need six beers to forget that we hate the place and are not doing something we love and we were bonded by the struggle. It's not like that here. And it's weird.It's a different environment to work in. My coworkers ask what I did on my days off. I'm used to saying the truth which is: "Well, I wrote a blog, auditioned for three voice overs gigs, submitted for eight projects, scanned the audition pages for anything local coming up, and wrote 10 pages in my short story I have yet to finish." Instead I end up saying: "Oh, laundry and caught up on How To Get Away With Murder." The latter is also true but doesn't feature the second job I try to do every day which is pursue my actual desired career because no one can relate.Since I'm not in college or fresh out, I have to keep reminding myself that I am a responsible adult who doesn't WANT to go out after work because I want to spend time with my husband in my pajamas so I can get up at reasonable hour to get all my shit done before I head back to serve the good people of Burlington. It helps that my coworkers don't actually invite me out. At first, I was insulted. Then I realized as I got to know them that they were getting to know me too and knew I was going to say no. I will stay for my shift drink or if we get out early together I'd happily go grab a beer but when it's edging on 11:30 pm, I want those sweatpants and Netflix and my husband and cat on the couch since that's the only time I am not actively working on my actual career.I have to put in the effort to make sure it still feels like a survival job even though I am surrounded by 'it's just my job'. It's easy to say that and drive there every day and socialize on my nights off and sleep until noon and forget that being an actor is a full time gig whether you're going to a rehearsal at night or not. Smaller cities and suburbia make that incredibly easy to fall into because that's what most people around me are doing.In reference to my blog last week about making friends, without having my coworkers also pursuing a dream (at least one they've shared openly), it's harder to connect. In New York, as I mentioned, it seemed simple because everyone was always seeking a friend, an ally in the battle. I finally had a moment of connection with a coworker who is an artist (!!!!) who was stressed about a pop up shop she was involved in and getting all her projects done. We had some great talks about that stress and how to focus and the joy of having it be a success and how to keep going from there. It felt like heaven.I am slowly getting to know more people in the artist community. While I haven't heard them use the term survival job, some regard it that way if they are in fact pursuing their passions as a career. A lot of them are not. They have good jobs with benefits and are doing what they love on the side. I've come across that a few times in the city but it's a big theme here. It's something I can't foresee achieving waiting tables as that job isn't exactly stable and I don't get benefits or the same salary month to month.It's still about survival even though I am not in New York City. I have to try that much harder to stay afloat in a business I am no longer surrounded by. It's harder not to hear what auditions people went on that morning before work and the headshot session they just had. When I'm not hearing the words 'audition' or 'film shoot', I slip into that cushy, normal, every day routine of sleep, work, and eating with the occasional social event. That's not me. That's not my dream. Sometimes I wish I had a different dream without survival jobs. Where that routine isn't scary, it's nice. But that routine terrifies me. I could do it and probably be okay. But I don't love anything as much as acting. I have plenty of other passions that I actively seek jobs in, hoping to find that good job that lets me act and doesn't make me miserable. As my parents affectionately said to me this past weekend, "You just don't like to work." It's true, I don't. Because anything that isn't performing or creative feels like work to me. When I'm getting paid to act or create something, it just feels good. The universe hasn't sent me anything else that feels that way yet and also allows me to pay my rent.So, I'll keep being your friendly neighborhood waitress. And that's okay. It's not great and it's lonely when you're the only one freaking out at night when you haven't been on a stage in months and no one replied to your taped audition you worked your ass off to memorize in an hour. It's hard when you're the old server and no one else is in their thirties. It's weird to serve your high school friends who thought your life was all Broadway openings and celebrities encounters. And it was. But that wasn't real life. It was only a part of it. My real life is this job that pays my bills and the work I am going to share with everyone this year. The work I love doing. Not the work I do to survive. Lonely, hard, and weird it will continue to be but that won't be forever. I won't let it.