Ages ago I read an article that was about giving up your lifelong dream. It was about a performer who after years of rejection finally decided that the career just wasn’t for them. It was an article that really stuck with me. I have literally done just this and it’s a really tricky thing to do. When you’ve dreamed of something forever, to suddenly realise that it’s just that, a dream, is incredibly hard.
Ever since I was about eight all I have ever wanted is to perform. I studied acting at college, went to Stagecoach for years, have done community theatre, paid for numerous courses, shelled out for tonnes of drama school auditions and am heading to university to study Theatre and Performance – I seem pretty eager to do it. But then, about two, three months ago, everything changed. It’s quite difficult to explain what changed. It’s not entirely like I woke up one morning and thought ‘meh’, it’s more that over the course of the last year I realised that being an actor wasn’t what I wanted anymore. Sure, there are loads of pros and cons to being an actor, and it’s not like throughout the years I wasn’t warned about all of those things. I can’t even tell you how many times people said to me ‘you’ll be out of work’, ‘you won’t get paid a lot’, ‘you’ll be rejected all the time’, and you listen, you nod, you go through it and you go ‘oh well, it’s worth it because this is what I want’. You also get told all of the amazing things about acting – ‘it’s so rewarding’, ‘you get such a buzz’, ‘you’re doing what you love’. Again, all of these things are true, but you always wonder is it enough. And then you’re made to feel like crap when you think them by all the people in the industry. Blogs, fellow actors, articles… They all tell you that you shouldn’t give up, stick with it… But sometimes, just sometimes, you have to let go.
For me, the realisation came after a long year of working as an associate for Clinique and a children’s entertainer. I was essentially self employed in both and had no idea when the money would be coming in at the end of each month – sound familiar? I absolutely hated it. Full on hated it and I realised that this was exactly what being an actor would be like. No consistency, never having any money, constantly moving. Okay, so I admit, being with my boyfriend also impacted – there’s a reason why performers tend to end up with other performers. There was Pete with his stable day to day lawyer job and I could just see as I looked into our future what would happen. I would be out of work, having to rely on him for money and support, always travelling and being disappointed constantly. As I considered my future I realised that wasn’t something I wanted and as a result came to the decision that perhaps acting wasn’t for me. I thought and thought about it all, weighing up everything, before deciding that I just couldn’t see myself going to auditions all the time. So instead I looked into teaching drama and decided that was something I could do with my degree and that was that. Do I ever wonder whether I should go back to the dream? Not really. Sure, I love acting still, I adore doing it at uni and it’s one of my favourite things, but I can’t wait to start teaching and living my life with Pete. Which is why I think it’s not “giving up”. It’s re-evaluating, deciding that you have to be practical about life and your career and going from there. Yes, you should follow your dreams, but sometimes your dreams aren’t exactly what you thought they’d be, and that’s okay too.