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Does Growing Up Mean You Have To Give Up?

29 Mar

Do you know what you were meant to be?

Some people believe there are destined career paths for all of us and it is just a matter of knowing yourself and knowing what that career path is. Sort of like your career soul mate.

I’ve known what I’ve wanted to be before I understood it was a career. We didn’t watch a lot of tv when I was growing up, mostly what was on the tv was news, hockey, once every four years the Olympics, oh and Saturday morning cartoons lol. Basically, the shows that had real people in them were things that actually really did have real people being themselves (like news anchors).

When I got a bit older and started watching things that weren’t cartoons I wanted to be so many different things because I thought the characters I saw on tv were real people. If I saw a show and there was a cop character I really liked I wanted to be a cop. Hell, when I watched Free Willy I was torn between wanting to be a runaway kid and a marine biologist lol I actually spent a chunk of time learning about dolphins and whales, pestering the trainers at the dolphin exhibit in the mall with all sorts of questions about the health and habits of dolphins because I wanted to know everything about them. I thought by being a marine biologist that would make me like the character in the movie. Oh my twisted logic! 😛

Growing up I wanted to be a lot of things because of this misunderstanding about the people on tv and in movies. Sure, kids want to be lots of different things as they grow up but all the careers I chose were because I wanted to be that person on tv, not because of the career itself.

As I got older I started learning more about Hollywood and tv filming etc and I was hit smack dab with the realization I was screwed. Hollywood is in LA, I can’t work in LA, I’m Canadian. I’m not going to be randomly spotted by a scout, or have an easy time figuring out how to get an agent cause not only am I in Canada, I am in the freakin prairies! Nothing film-wise happens there! I shoved down my desire to be an actress because it seemed impractical (I come from a very practical family) and more than that, it seemed impossible. I didn’t tell anyone what I wanted to be because I feared their responses, so I kept my wanting-to-act a secret and just daydreamed about it. Those daydreams were half torment (constantly thinking about something you are convinced you can’t have sucks) and my only escape from the life path I seemed stuck on.

growing up sucks

Then I learned about film school. I was close to finishing my Bachelor of Arts Degree and getting more and more depressed thinking about how when I finished my bachelors I was going to go write LSATS and go to law school and while I’d be making everyone in my family happy I’d be quietly miserable. It was either that or get my Masters in Sociology which was more tolerable of an idea but less likely to get me a career when I was done so what was the point? A friend showed me a pamphlet about the film school he was going to for Digital Game Design, as I was flipping through it I saw they had an Acting Department. I was floored. You can go to school to learn how to act in Canada? How did I not know this?? Probably because I was so busy trying to hide from myself just how desperately I wanted to act. I asked if I could keep the pamphlet and tucked it in my bag. I carried it around with me for days, pulling it out, re-reading it like it was some forbidden text. I checked the school out online and it opened something in me. The box I had stuffed my dream in to opened a crack and I experienced a little bit of hope that just maybe I could have a chance to follow my dream. I applied for Acting School on the sly, didn’t tell anyone, I figured if they didn’t accept me no one had to know and if they did well, I’d deal with that if it happened.

It totally happened. They got my submission package, it included two self-taped monologues, and I got immediate acceptance. They actually apologized for taking a day and a half to contact me but they had to wait for one more person to view the monologues before officially accepting me even though everyone who had watched my tape said yes to taking me in. It seemed unreal. I was so excited I wanted to get up and dance lol

So here I am, years later, living in BC, still trying to earn a living at acting. I had the unfortunate luck of getting a string of not-great agents (one literally disappeared!), and having day jobs that barely pay the bills meaning all the investments I as an actor am supposed to make to be viable in the industry very rarely get made (new headshots on a frequent basis, demo reels, appropriate wardrobe, continued acting classes/workshops and more). Acting is one of those things you have to invest a lot of money in to before you’ll get anything out of it and I never have the money, I’m impressed if I can pay my rent, bills and buy groceries all in one month! lol

A friend of mine lately has been on my case about going back to school, she says I am wasting my brain at my day job (which yeah, ok, I am) and she feels I should give up on acting and get a responsible career. sigh. She’s not the only one, I know my parents would love it if I’d quit with the acting and do something that was more sensible. And yeah, I’ve been poor a long time, and some days I think I’m done with it and can give up my dream if it means I can have a larger, steady paycheque that allows to me to pay my bills, get out of debt and maybe even save a little but when I really sit down and think about it I cringe. Not about the money part, of course I want more money, but the giving up on my dream part.

Acting is…it is my thing. It is what I was meant to do. Nothing else makes me feel the way acting does, whether it is working on a scene, being in front of a camera, plotting my rise to fame with my agent. Just the idea of giving up, of no longer trying makes me sad. But I know I have to grow up at some point, and maybe I am at that point. Maybe I can’t wait for a time where I don’t feel despondent about quitting acting, maybe that will never happen, maybe I just have to push all my dreams back in to a dark corner in my heart and forget about them, squish them down and become like everybody else, doing a job I don’t love but that pays the bills with a little left over.

With that in mind I have an appointment this coming week for a tour of the Law Department at UBC. If I’m gonna go back might as well go back to the original responsible plan right? I had convinced myself I was ok with this tour, that it would be interesting and maybe I was up for a change until I got an email from the University I got my Bachelors from. It was an email with highlights of what people have been doing and one of the highlights was about a play being put on by students there, my first thought was if I go to Law school I’ll never have the chance to perform again, I’ll be giving all that up, and my heart hurt a bit. Why does growing up and making grown up decisions have to include the death of my dream and involve my giving up on what I want?

Growing up sucks.

were adults

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