The “Reality” Behind a “Practical” Career

Photo Credit: Henry Braff

For all the right reasons, often we ask ourselves if we’re actually cutout for what we’re doing. As an actor, this is a daily battle for me. Like, do I possess a creative talent unique enough to set me apart from the competition? Am I distinctive enough? And how the #!^$@* am I supposed to sustain a living off playing dress up to a camera?

I’ve been working long enough to know that this doesn’t make me a pessimist. It’s passion! Far too often I see people discussing work with dread and disgust, instead of excitement and empowerment to live in the moment and to figure out what’s next. If that sounds familiar to you, I highly suggest you switch over (after this read, of course) and skim a piece by Jesse Holth titled “5 Signs It May be time to Quit Your Job.”

“Realistic” and “Practical” are the two adjectives all people pursuing a career in life use. “I just don’t know if it’s realistic” is something I hear so much that it actually makes me want to gag. That said, I’m still a hypocrite and wonder the same thing myself, and still *gag*. But the answer to how someone can be so optimistic for such farfetched goals isn’t a blanket answer. Here’s a fun and slightly cringe-worthy metaphor for you: The key to one person’s success isn’t the same for another. That’s why it’s their key; it opens their door to success, not yours.

You can’t control when you fail, only how BIG you fail. Just earlier this week, I was hanging out in a coffee shop, sitting next to a woman yakking on her cell when I “overheard” her talking about passion for a career. (To be clear, “overheard” is not to be mistaken with eavesdropping — or maybe just a little.) Describe it as you may, I listened in on her explaining why she quit pursuing a career in creative writing because “it wasn’t in the realm of possibility”. But now, she whined, “I’m miserable, yet paying my bills… so it’s a life, I guess.” Pretty much the ‘ol “realistic” or “practical” spiel again. I asked myself, what has changed for this person since they got realistic? It’s hard to determine such a thing by just overhearing a sentence like this, but the biggest difference I noticed was that here we were sitting in the same coffee shop, thinking about the same things, only I’m writing about the joys of my career with the hope to spread that optimism to you with a tall (small) coffee in front of me, and there she was discussing her misery at work with a Venti (large) coffee in front of her. A perfect analogy of the price I have to pay for my passion vs what she gets as a reward for giving hers up. I understand that is on the smallest of scales, but it’s the same analogy for everything else too. Does it matter how big your house is when you hate the work that bought it?

Do yourself a simple favor. Start saying no to others and yes to you. Happiness is something you owe to yourself. If others don’t like it, who cares? You aren’t alive long enough to be someone you don’t want to be. Whether you’re working in the theatre, Wall Street, or even as an Aspiring Dolphin Trainer, your dreams are yours. It’s time to stop flirting and fantasizing with the idea of bringing your golden dreams to life. MAXIMIZE your potential! Trust me: to succeed, the journey to becoming who you really are starts with a single step.