This July has marked a full year of life since I graduated the ACA. This year has been full of blessings and full of chaos. This year I have worked more back-to-back gigs than ever before. And while I have been grateful for the overabundance of work this year, this single truth has emerged loud and clear:
Life is not about the work.
We talk about “our life’s work” and as artists in general and actors in particular our whole life is source and lab for our work. This year I’ve found myself sneaking training sessions into every spare minute of the day, trying desperately to partner ordinary activities with skill-building in the vain hope that I will become extraordinary. (NB: Biking is great for building breath support, but people will look at you funny if you practice tongue exercises on the Metropolitan Branch Trail.)
Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t work. I’m still ordinary. One of the false promises of this profession is that if you work hard and faithfully, you will become irresistibly cast-able and perennially notable. And if you are a good person alongside being diligent, then premium roles and accolades are your indisputable birthright. False. This year I have seen good actors, hard-working actors, kind actors lose out on work for one reason or another. And when the rejection, the exhaustion, and the loneliness come knocking like the hellish ménage à trois they are, the work will not be there for you.
But people will be.
I don’t like to need people. Like, I really hate it. But I also long to be able to need people in the ordinary way everyone else seems to be able to (i.e. If you opened up my veins you might find a tiny Barbara Streisand singing “People” on a slow loop). Without people, we become locked inside ourselves, locked in our tiny kingdoms of chaos and despair. Other people draw us out of that darkness and reorient us to God, to ourselves, and to each other. We were not made to be alone.
But work tells us that we are alone. That at the end of the day, no matter how much collaboration and group activity you participate in, you still have to be competent and worthy of even showing up to the workplace. You have to earn your right to be there, and you can’t control who will find you acceptable or desirable. Professionalism can hide a multitude of fears, and when you’re no longer able to be the professional you hoped you were, who then will hire you?
Well, this second year out of grad school, I will praying for and practicing the excruciating discipline of seeking relationships. There have been too many days this year where I have been nauseated with depression, verbally inarticulate from anxiety, and paralyzed by fear. If I don’t change now, it may kill me. Reading through Acts, it is extraordinary how the people of God came around each other with encouragement, protection, and nurture for both life and work. When we talk, can we talk less about work and more about the other 90% of life that isn’t work? Can we seek to rebuild the human soul that longs to be known more than it longs to be useful?
All this to say, thank you for being in my life. Thank you for everyone who got me through this year through hugs, prayers, tanks of gas, texts, care packages, and furry kisses (That last one is about dogs. Just to be clear.). If you want to get coffee or go for a walk sometime and talk about that weird insect that’s been living in your shower or what a great movie Stardust is, hit me up. 🙂