My bank account’s almost dry, I don’t have another job in the works and I don’t care.
Call me an optimist, but I truly believe each and every one of us possess the necessary tools we need to succeed in life. The only difference between the ones who do, and the ones who don’t, is guts. And maybe a sprinkle of insanity thrown in.
At least, that’s what I told myself when I quit my job without warning two weeks ago. No other work in the wings. No job applications in the works. And no backup plan.
The odd thing is, I’m okay with it. Because I didn’t throw in the towel to escape a meglomaniac boss (though I’ve had my fair share of those) or workplace politics. I did it to follow my dream to become an actor.
I realise how that sounds. I may as well have announced I’m running off to join the circus. I’ve already had plenty of those looks. The puzzled, concerned “Are you sure about what you’re doing?” expressions. I get it. Who leaves their job without a backup plan?
It’s not like I have an abundance of savings sitting in my bank account. I’m not a privileged white girl whose parents could continue to support well into their 30s. And I’m not sure when I’m going to see my next pay check, aside from my last.
But I’ve known since I was five-years-old that I wanted to work in the film industry. Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories are performing in self-directed Christmas plays with my resistant cousins. But growing up, my parents – just like most – instilled in me that being an actress wasn’t a realistic or attainable career goal.
At the very tender and pubescent age of 13, my mum made it clear to me that I would never make it to the big screen, or any screen for that matter. Was she psychic? Did she possess some magical crystal ball that enabled her to see into my future? Ah, no – she was just a traditionalist who believed that mediocre was a good place to settle.
I’ve since realised mediocre is not a nice place to settle. In fact, mediocre is so miserable even my internal organs have clued onto how tragic it is. I say this because I’m currently staring down the barrel of some serious health problems as a result. Wandering aimlessly on autopilot every day with no sense of meaning or satisfaction does ridiculous things to your emotional and physical being – and unless you’re a walking, talking zombie, something’s eventually got to give.
Was that going to be my sanity or my long-term health? F*ck no. So to acting school I went to find some relief. I enrolled in a part-time course with the intention of doing it for a serotonin boost. But it gave me more than a momentary jolt of happiness, it gave me an epiphany: if I could do this every day for the rest of my life, I’d die fulfilled.
Performing in those classes made my soul sing. It made me ridiculously, stupidly happy, regardless of how challenging it was. In short, it gave me a sense of purpose. Instinctively, I just knew – I’d been on the wrong path and I needed to steer back on track, regardless of the expectations of my parents or the tsk-tsking of others (and believe me, I’ve had plenty of that).
Yes, I could have continued working as a full-time suit behind a desk for another six to 12 months until I had a more secure plan and a less miserable looking balance glaring back at me from my bank account. But life is too short and unpredictable. And I’ve already spent most of it denying my one true passion, so why waste another year?
As a bonafide control freak, the thought of having no job security and no concrete plan terrifies me. But the thought of being free of a corporate job and having the complete, uninterrupted time to throw myself into acting excites me more.
I’m fully aware this could blow up in my face and that the path ahead will likely be more difficult than the one I’m currently walking. But, if I died tomorrow, my biggest regret would be having let that fear hold me back from living my authentic life.
I’m confident I’ll find casual work along the way. I have to be, right? If I don’t keep an optimistic attitude, following my dreams will have all been for nothing. And this is precisely where my two-page resume and strong work ethic comes in handy.
The thing is, there’s never going to be the perfect time to do anything. Opportunities rarely fall into your lap; you have to go forth and seek them out. Mark Twain once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”
And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m throwing caution to the wind, trusting in something bigger than myself and taking a giant, albeit insanely questionable, leap of faith.
Watch this space.
Images via cambio.com, lifeisaforkintheroad.com and blog.thankfulfor.com.