I've Forgotten How To Fly (AKA Be Busy)
When I first moved to the city, I had three jobs. Four if you count auditioning which I do because that is a full time situation. I would get up in the morning, go to the first job which was either temping or my restaurant hosting gig and then go to my night job which was Disney Theatricals working the merch at Broadway shows. I would be working from 8AM to 11PM most days. I don’t recall when I had a day off. Most weekdays, I’d be up even earlier to sign up for auditions at the crack of dawn (around 5AM) and then head back sometime in the afternoon. If I booked something, I had rehearsals at night and shows on the weekends and I still worked those two-three jobs. Somehow I had energy. I was alive, I had a social life and went on dates. It was a struggle every day and there was some darkness but I can honestly say, it was one of the best times of my life. I was busy AF and I was thriving.
I don’t remember what it is like to be busy. I feel like Peter Banning: I’ve forgotten how to fly.
Recounting the past five years, I do not remember being busy. Sure, I said I was busy and some days, I sort of was close. But I was never busy like 20 something Rachel was busy. I had pulled back on auditioning the year I got married, taking classes and doing short films/sketches locally. I started the year working two jobs and eventually ended it with one easy 10AM-4PM gig. Then we moved. I got a restaurant job and got involved with improv comedy. I had a rehearsal and maybe a show during the week plus my shifts. I had several days off that were entirely free. Even once I secured a day time schedule of 8AM-5PM, I still was not what I consider to be busy.
I tried to fill my plate with other things but it never got full. I didn’t mind. I had moved to have more of the slow life. Time to reflect and relax. Time to think about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to take my career, my relationship, etc. I had plenty of time to do all of this and even more time once I lost that job. Even with improv rehearsals and shows, I was not busy. My mind was churning and I let it run wild because it had nothing to work for. It drove me to a very bad place.
I moved back. I got a great day job and it paid enough that it was all I needed. I haven’t been auditioning but I have been writing. I had time during the day to write as well as at home. Then that job closed its office and I worked form home the past six months. I definitely was not busy doing that.
Currently, I am in the last moments of this several year long ‘vacation from busy’. I start work Tuesday. In an office. With people. Where I have to put on pants and travel to get there at a designated time.
I am freaking out.
I am freaking out because I forget what it is like to be busy and I am anxious about it. I was so skilled at working several jobs, auditioning, rehearsing, and being social when I was younger. Now, I am terrified I will never write again because I’ll be too tired or too backed up with this normal, easy to adapt to schedule. It’s actually quite embarrassing how concerned I am that all my dreams will die once I start going to an actual job once more. I’ve had several full panic attack moments, nights of crying, tons of candles being lit and pieces of paper that say “FEAR OF CHANGE” being burned so that maybe I can let it go and move on like a functioning adult. I am in a place where I forget how to be busy and I am sinking.
All the successful people I know get up in the morning and work a job at some point. Maybe its daytime, maybe at night. But they get up and do both their passion (music, art, theater, comedy) and then work to pay the bills. They rehearse at night. They shoot on the weekends. They are hard to tie down because they have some time Wednesday from 2:45PM to 3:15PM and that’s it because they have so many projects, they aren’t available for happy hour. They aren’t running on fumes either; they are running on their determination and desire for success in their chosen field. They are working towards breaking the chains of a normal job to do this full time. And many have done just that.
The rub of it all? They will remain busy like that forever because that is how passionate careers work. You don’t slow down because you book a Broadway show. You work that show eight times a week plus rehearsals plus appearances plus probably concerts, daytime TV costar roles, and charity events. Artists are busy. That’s how it all works, how it all happens. We don’t stop til we drop. And we love it.
I forget what that is like and I am terrified I will suck at it. I have relished my relaxing time. Time to binge watch a show. Time to write whenever I please and read leisurely. Time to go to brunch and dinner and museums and spend a weekend in comfy clothes running errands. I’ve really enjoyed that life. It has helped to be paid to work from home at a stress free job but even without that, I have gotten used to doing nothing and it is about to stop. The flip side of it is that all this time, as I mentioned above, has let my mind wander in a big field of nothing and I’ve become more anxious and more depressed. Go figure.
I have a choice. I can get back into the swing of an office job and continue with my relaxed life. I can put projects aside and take my time finishing my novel. I can keep my weeknights and weekends free and drift along, letting things float away and pretending I don’t miss them. I can continue in this manner because it is comfortable and easy. I could love this life. I could be this person.
I wouldn’t be happy though. Or fulfilled. I’d always wonder if I had tried and been busy for a few years, what would happen? What if I got new headshots and casually auditioned on lunch breaks? What if I carved out time every day after work to write for an hour? What if weekends were made for shooting sketches, working on a script, and more writing? Weeknights could be for rehearsals again. I could get back to the full time job with my passion on the side. It is extremely doable. It is right there in front of me, a watery memory floating in a mirror, asking me to remember it. There is no reason to say refuse except I have grown complacent, I am scared, and I am older than 22 year old tireless Rachel. I have forgotten my happy thought.
Luckily, happy thoughts can be remembered.
I go back to the blog I wrote a few weeks ago about saying no. Now that I am going back to the workforce, I will have to stick to that plan. I will have to say no if I want to get my projects done. I will say yes to my passions instead of a night of binge watching. Instead of carving out time to write, I will carve out time to relax between writing goals. I will take a weekend off from shooting to be a suburban resident who goes to Whole Foods and maybe gets a pedicure after before heading to Target. I love that life, too. I can have both. No one is telling me I can’t. I can fly and have feet on the ground when I need to.
I might be tired. I might fail even bigger. I might never do any of this. But I know I will at least try. I know I will because I feel it creeping up the back of my neck and whispering in my ear: hard work pays off. If I don’t resign myself to being busy again, I won’t get anywhere I want to be. I was great at being busy. It made me happy to work tirelessly. I went to bed exhausted which I haven’t done in years. I actually have trouble sleeping as of late and I know it is because I am not busy enough to exhaust myself.
There is nothing wrong with living a life like I have been (okay, let’s be real, my life has been far more luxurious than most lately). But as Arya Stark says, “That isn’t me.”
Have to fly, have to fight, have to crow.