I have about three out of nine answers when it comes to living life; which is fine. No one has all the answers. If someone tells you that they are trying to sell you something...or so I've been sold...I mean told. One thing I still deal with as a young professional in the theatre business is anxiety. Not about doing my job thankfully. I can stay calm and collected for the most part and have a healthy way of dealing with my job stress (more on that in another blog). No, my anxiety comes from the fear of not being able to support myself and those I love through doing what I love.
What we do isn't easy. Especially as an independent contractor, you are constantly looking for work, sending out inquiries, looking at job boards, etc. Sometimes the pressure of making bills and having "enough" money can get you down. Just recently I had a moment of doubt and anxiety while looking for my next gig. Right now, not much is available for someone who can't pick up and move right away. I still have one semester of a thesis to complete before I get my MFA secret club badge. They give you those things at graduation right? All jokes aside, I do struggle with the anxiety of doing what fulfills me as a creative person and what will put a roof over my head and food on my plate.
As it just recently was graduation season, there have been many commencement speeches about a place the arts has in this ever changing world. How we as artists or creative people can make a living and a difference at the same time. I think it is all about building a network of people who can rely on each other and putting yourself out there as much as possible: sending emails to designers you admire, directors you have worked with in the past, theatres you know may be looking for someone to fill a position you know you are qualified for.
For the past few weeks a video of Will Ferrell's commencement speech at USC has been going around social media. I watched it the morning after an anxiety attack and it helped bring a few things into perspective. Ferrell's "throw[ing] as many darts at the dart board" analogy gave me hope in my ability to persevere. Hey, I'm great at darts! The dart analogy was, to me, about getting yourself out into the field and saying "yes" as many times as you can (like in improv). Not to say "yes" to something detrimental, but to say "yes" to something that may scare you a little.
Ferrell also mentioned having a supportive mother. I think it is very important to have a strong support system of people. I count my parents, sister, professors, boyfriend, and friends as a large part of why I continue to succeed in my chosen field. Without their support and occasional string pulling I would not be where I am today.
Despite all this anxiety is something I still struggle with. It is something I don't have an answer for. But, it is something I can work on. As a theatre professional I will never have all the answers. That is the joy of life theatre. Each show, each performance, is different. You have to be an ever adapting organism. For the rest of you out there who struggle with aspects of our profession that leave you doubting from time to time, you are not alone. I'm right there with you. Maybe we just need to remember...
Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out."- Will Ferrell
(click here for the whole speech)