I often feel I have two completely solid separate entities within myself. I always credit it to being a Gemini: the twins are very prominent in my personality. New York was one twin and small town life was another. I've been struggling for, well, forever, to try and determine what my 'dream' life is. Can I be both big city actor and suburbanite?My New York dream life didn't exactly go as planned. Not many of ours do. I wanted to move to New York and be famous at first. Obviously. After reality stepped in and body checked me, I just wanted to be a working New York actor. There were times that it actually happened. I would be paid enough to just be an actor or model and not have a survival job. It would be those moments that the city twin would rejoice and frolic freely without a care in the world.New York dream life that still beats in my head, I am a working theater actor. I do television and film on the side. I'm someone you would pass on the street and think "Where do I know her from..." I go to brunch every weekend and happy hours at fancy cocktail bars on dark nights from whatever show I'm in. I have an apartment that's on the upper west side, nothing flashy but nice. Maybe with exposed brick and an elevator. Maybe a little deck or backyard garden area. When I have downtime, I rent a cabin up in the mountains and I go with friends up there for bonfires and wine soaked game nights.I participate readings and workshops of up and coming productions. I write and spend time with my husband and our rescue dogs. My Instagram life would be epic. Lots of pretty pictures of city skylines, famous theater friends, ocean side group shots, and coffee cups with hashtags galore (yeah, I'd go there). I have work I love and still be able to sleep in occasionally. I read new books, support small theater and indie film. My film projects frequent the festival circuit. I travel to places not in the mainstream for adventures.Everyone I knew growing up would say I had made it, I made my dreams come true and wasn't that amazing???!?! They would say they always knew it would happen for me, you know, like people do when their friends hit the big time whether they mean it or not. I had arrived and I was at the top and everything I ever wanted had come true.In real life, I may have had all of the above but it can be taken away at any time. Broadway shows close unexpectedly. Television shows are canceled and films bomb at the box office. This career is not steady. This New York life is attainable but not sustainable for most. I had this dream but I also had the suburb dream lurking in the corner, shouting out things like "Savings account!" and "You don't own anything but your toothbrush!"The small pond twin is a different dream life. I have a house with a yard and woods behind it. I still have rescue dogs and my Instagram is of rich sunsets and adorable nooks I find in town. I have a job that is steady and reliable in a field I enjoy. I can pay my bills and still take vacations. I have weekends free. I have a set schedule so I can plan ahead easily and fill my time off with things I enjoy. I wear my own clothes, not a uniform, to work. I go out to eat but have mastered cooking and have dinner parties with neighbors and friends. I go to happy hours and dinner dates but am home in time to watch a movie with my husband. There are still wine soaked game nights but they are in a living room in front of a fire. I take a spin class with my lady friends. I'm not stressed about surviving.I am still an actor. I work in the professional theaters in town and regionally. I make movies with my husband and friends. We have a good buzz around us and frequent festivals across the country with our projects. Sundance isn't out of the question. We've made a few local commercials and are consistently being ask to be in friends' projects. We are celebrities in our own right, featured in a few newspapers occasionally promoting our new work. I have a princess party business on the side that encourages children to use their imagination and create stories using fairies they come up with on their own (this is an actual thing on the back burner right now)Nights when I would be in a cab driving home, gazing out at the skyline flashing by, buzzed from the open bar at an opening night of a Broadway show I had gone to, the small pond twin would be silent and the big city twin would have her eyes filled with tears and be thinking, "Yes. This is it. This is the life I want."Nights when I would be sitting on my parents back deck, drinking a beer, looking out into the darkened trees and hearing crickets and watching fireflies go by, the big city twin would have her lips pursed tightly and the small pond twin would be stretching out and breathing a sigh of relief. The thoughts of failure and stress wouldn't be screaming in my head. Instead it would be, "Yup. Here it is. Doing what I love but still in control and steady and stable. This is the life I want."Which is the right life for me? Can the two be combined? If I choose one does that mean the other can't still be possible? Does it mean I have given up on my dream?If the twins work together, they can create an ideal future life that is attainable AND sustainable. If I live outside a city with a job I like that is stable enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. I am an actor, writer, and producer with our film production company. Maybe I've had a few bit roles or a national commercial. I do theater often. I have a backyard but I can go to a museum any time I want. The skyline pictures are side by side with shots of flowers and tomatoes I grow. I have my friends over on weekends to 'escape the city'.I am about to start a transition in my work life. The reason for this specific blog is that I've stayed in jobs like serving because they don't feel permanent to me and allow me to feel comfortable calling myself an actor because that was always my goal: work those jobs until I work exclusively as an actor. I keep telling myself they are temporary and it makes me feel better about where I am in my career.There's been a trend I've noticed where actors have stopped taking these jobs. They are choosing career type jobs instead of a temporary fix. A close friend of mine in LA said it's common practice there that you have a solid, steady job and continue to audition and work in television and film. You have health insurance, set schedule, and a paycheck every week to afford your headshots and you can use your paid time off to shoot an under five on Grey's Anatomy. You aren't waiting for the last people to get up from their table or calling your temp agency, begging for a monthly gig. You have a familiar day to day and can schedule your career around that.Elizabeth Gilbert, who I absolutely adore, wrote this about the difference between jobs and careers and it really spoke to me:
A job is how you look after yourself in the world. I always had a job, or several jobs, back when I was an unpublished, aspiring writer. Even after I'd already published three books, I still kept a regular job, because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the responsibility of paying for my life. Artists often resent having jobs, but I never resented it. Having a job always made me feel powerful and secure and free. Now, here's the most essential thing to understand about a job: IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE AWESOME. You don't need to love your job; you just need to have a job and do it with respect...Your job does not need to be how you define yourself; you can create your own definitions of your purpose and your meaning, pulled from deep within your imagination.A career is different from a job. A job is just a task that you do for money, but a career is something that you build over the years with energy, passion, and commitment. You don't need to love your job, but I hope to heaven that you love your career — or else you're in the wrong career, and it would be better for you to quit that career and just go find yourself a job, or a different career. Careers are best done with excitement. Careers are huge investments. Careers require ambition, strategy, and hustle. Your career is a relationship with the world. A career is not for everyone. A career is a choice. But if you do make that choice, make sure that you really care about your career. Otherwise, it's just an exhausting marathon, for no reason.She also mentions vocation: Writing was my vocation long before I was lucky enough to get the career of an "author" — and writing will always be my vocation, whether my career as an author keeps working out or not. This is why I can approach my career with a certain sense of calm — because I know that, while I obviously care about career, I am not defined by it...The entire publishing world could vanish, and books could become obsolete, and I would still be a writer — because that's my vocation. That's my deal with God. You do not need to make money from your vocation in order for it to have meaning. Writing had meaning for me LONG before you ever heard of me, and long before anyone else wanted me to do it.
I am very excited about my new job. I haven't been excited for a new job in a long while and it has only been a few jobs that have made me so. I took jobs to survive and manage my career and now I may be taking one for the joy of it. And I feel guilty because it's not in my career. It's in something I enjoy immensely. But it's not acting. It's not even in the arts. Is this what I want? Right now, yes. Right now, I choose the giddy happy feeling of a future with a good schedule, wearing my own clothes, and having nights and weekends to fill with my career.I can work a job that isn't serving Peter Dinklage a Bloody Mary (which I have done and yes, he was awesome) and still survive. I can maybe afford to travel to audition for a role in a movie Peter Dinklage is filming in Boston someday and book a speaking role in a scene with him all while sending emails remotely to keep up with my daily work schedule. I can satisfy the city twin by continuing to travel, try new restaurants, visit museums, frequent the concrete jungles around me. The small pond twin is currently thriving and I'm gonna let her go and see where she takes me. It's been a while since she's been in the driver's seat.