Psychic Readings and Fractured Dreams
A few years back, I took a friend’s advice and paid $30 for a phone call with her beloved psychic. While I’m not much of a hippie (though I’m very into saging these days), I thought it would be entertaining to see what this random stranger had to say about my life. I hopped on the pricy phone call and told the disembodied voice all about me.
When it came time for questions, I first asked the question that was always on my mind: would I ever be a professional actor? No, she responded. I would become disenchanted with it. I followed up and asked if I’d at least be a writer. Surely I’d do something creative, right? Nope. But here’s the real kicker—she told me I’d write a book. About what? Unclear. Since I wasn’t going to be a true writer, I figured it would be a memoir about some horrific event that would eventually transpire, a la Aviva from Real Housewives of New York City. Can’t wait!
Ever since the idea that acting is the end-all-and-be-all has all but died, new people sometimes ask why I decided to give it up. It fills me with an indescribable dread that’s hard for me to articulate. Mostly because I haven’t given up, I’ve just reevaluated my priorities, at least for right now. I might not feel like an actor all day every day, but that part of me is still very much alive.
When my mom was in town this past weekend, we walked through the theater district to catch the 8 p.m. performance of “Waitress.” Two thoughts occurred to me. 1) A new crop of acting wannabes/hopefuls are just arriving in the city, and 2) 22-year-old me would be sad if she saw me now. She wouldn’t understand that working a full-time job with upward movement can be fulfilling. She wouldn’t get that I didn’t actively give up on acting. She would just be sad that it wasn’t at the forefront of everything I do.
Fresh-out-of-college Sarah doesn’t know what living pay check-to-paycheck without the involvement of a parent feels like. She doesn’t understand needing good health insurance and preparing for retirement. She is an idealistic, mess of a girl who doesn’t mind watching shitty TV until dawn and waking up at 2 p.m. She’s probably a lot more fun than I am, but she doesn’t know the real benefits of being stable.
I envy her for her relentless belief that she would make it as an actor. I’m mad at her for not trying hard enough. I resent that she wasn’t cut out for restaurant or coffee shop work, but am glad that, together, we’ve found a career that works for us.
Searching for stability doesn’t mean you’ve given up or failed—it can just mean you want to know how much you’ll make each week and get paid while skedaddling away for much-needed vacation. I still love acting, but I’ve focused my life on building a more linear career. (I’m not a businesswoman, but I’m a business, woman!) Luckily I’m doing something creative to make a living. Copywriting may not be creative writing, but it’s writing nonetheless.
Someday, once my finances are all in order and I have the mental capacity to create for my own purposes, I’ll get back on that acting horse. I still hold out hope that I could be one of those inspirational tales where I get my big break post 30. After all, plenty of performers and artists worked full-time jobs for at least part of their lives. Right?