When You Sell Out
It is comical to me now to think how much I despised the idea of a regular 9-5 schedule. I fought tooth and nail to avoid it. In my best angsty teenager voice, I argued with my parents that it was not what actors did. I did not want stability, I wanted the life of a creative filled with late nights and free days. I wanted to be in the city and working three jobs with no health insurance and surviving off of saltines with peanut butter because I was a fucking actor, dammit.Yeah, we should never listen to our 22 year old brains.I am just coming off of a weekend that was incredibly joyous. I don't remember the last time I had been gifted such a solid three days of laughing and feeling the freedom I so strove for when I was young and running around like a kitten on catnip. I ate, I drank (too much, oops), I hung out with my favorite people. And today I am back at work and I don't hate everything. What gives?My best advice to young artists looking to move to the city is FIND STABILITY. I thought becoming a legit adult would take away my street cred, or something idiotic along those lines, but let me tell you it does the opposite. Not having stability drains you. I was always struggling, exhausted, angry, and terrified. When you're trying to be an actor, or any creative, and you have no energy, how can you put forth anything of value?There is such a stigma around working 9-5 when you are an artist. It's selling out. But you know what? Selling out gets a bad rap. If having a steady paycheck, insurance, a set schedule, and paid time off is selling out, well, consider me sold.I believed with my whole heart that if I had a regular job, I wouldn't be able to be an actor. But some of the more successful actors I know have been working steady jobs for years and now are able to quit them because of they have steady acting jobs in their place. I never understood it until I decided to change up how I lived in the city this time around. I combined my love for being in the city with my love for the quiet and convenience of the suburbs and its working like gang busters. I no longer live paycheck to paycheck. I am not scrambling at the end of the month, picking up shifts for an extra $200 to stay afloat or maxing out my credit cards. Without that fear looming over me, my brain can wander and explore without being stifled. I am able to relax and enjoy my creative pursuits instead of desperately clinging to auditions for dear life to save me from this never ending cycle of jobs that were eating me alive. Even though I am still on an acting business hiatus, I have more drive to get back in there than I did before. Having my real life secure has planted this growing happiness and desire to remember the dreams I had that I assumed were impossible with this lifestyle.It is hard to find balance in a pulsing city like New York. It shifts constantly. It sinks its claws into you easily, pulling you down into the dark, desperate times where you think you aren't doing enough. Then it spits you back up and lifts you higher than you ever imagined you'd fly. I took a step away from the city and went to an extreme opposite. So I came back and opted for balance. I live outside the city but work there everyday. I have weekends where I split time with creative projects and normal weekend projects like grocery shopping and brunch. I purposely found a neighborhood where I did not have to leave to find activities and could spend an entire Saturday exploring. I have a short commute that is not with the dumpster fire that is the MTA.Oh, god. Am...am I a grownup?I think there are a lot of so called 'rules' when you set out to be an actor you're supposed to follow. Urban legends about how serving is the best job to have because of the money and flexibility (that's true) or that corporate offices suck out your arty soul (also true). But if you can find a good fit with a steady job and you don't have that concern of where is my rent money coming from lingering over you, crushing every moment of inspiration you have, I promise it makes a world of difference.For years, I felt I had no control of my time. Everything was flying all over like it was caught in a tornado. Now, it is calm, steady, able to carry the weight of being an actor in a city of a million actors. I needed balance but my stubborn, immature heart refused to give in and listen to my mother and find a good job. Luckily, with a second chance underway, I found the good job and now the rest of the pieces are free to fall into place after all these years of being pushed aside. I can take the energy and focus I had on trying to stay alive and put it into feeling alive. I know this isn't a solution for every single creative out there. I am only saying consider it instead of being like 22 year old me who refused to even consider the idea. Balance does not mean you've given up. We can't all live like we are characters in Rent. You are not selling out. You are building a foundation on which to grow strong and stable so you can share the gifts you are bursting to share with the world. I gave in, I sold out, I grew up (only a little). I've got my foundation finally...let's go.