As we all simmer down and settle in to the reality of a brand new year and getting used to typing 2016 instead of 2015, I have been starting to reflect on a few things. Firstly, that my goal for last year was to learn to play the piano again and that I haven’t even been in danger of attending a piano lesson. Secondly, that sometimes the things you plan for yourself are so far from what you actually need that it can make you more depressed than motivated. Especially when you continue to not do them.
Things like learning to play the piano and finishing my honours are things that I want but, they are not necessarily things that are going to make me happy. Another piece of paper in a pretty frame would be fantastic, but how much would my honours in counselling psychology really aid me in my career in the arts? It’s little more than an ego boost at this stage. Perhaps one day I will want it again. Playing the piano would also be great and in fact does give me some skills that I will use on a regular basis. But, in setting that goal for something that I wanted and didn’t need, I’m now faced with another new year’s resolution that I haven’t kept. Sigh! Sometimes being over-enthusiastic leaves you being less than enthused when it comes down to it.
This blog has been running for more than two years now. It started off as my little baby, and it has evolved in to a team project where my colleagues and I can share our thoughts on our own lives as performers. Sometimes on the effect our work takes on our personal life and sometimes on how to manage our personal lives so that it doesn’t affect our jobs, sometimes on how just damn hard it is to be a performer and keep battling against the odds your whole life through. When I started it I had no idea that I would be writing about how to survive without the arts too.
Last year I took on a day job to keep me afloat financially while I refined what kind of artist I wanted to be. I no longer want to take any and every job that comes along. I always want to do the jobs that make me proud to do what I do, which means that I am no longer willing to prance around in hotpants at someone else’s office party. We’re obviously not in this industry for the money, we’re in it for the love. So if the love dies while we’re pinching the pennies and having our asses pinched in return, then I suspect there is no point in trying to maintain a full time “career” in performance work anymore. With that resolution I have decided to do other things for the money while I continue to perform for the love.
Performing while keeping up a day job was incredibly tough last year. I was working 16 hours days for 3 months during the run of Sister Act at the Joburg Theatre. I was rehearsing over weekends and in the evenings trying to get our workshopping of Date Night going for the other months. While 2015 brought me a lot of joy, it has also left me exhausted. So, while I still plan to do everything, my new goal is to get better at managing it. There is nothing grand that I need to get out of the year ahead, I simply want to emerge from the other end of 2016 feeling more in control of my world.
My colleagues and I juggle many different balls of different sizes. Marise has just become the mother of two and she works as a marketing manager and full time mom while she writes for us. She could also be cast in any number of international musicals just from reputation. Chantal just got married so she’s just added “wife” to her list of titles. She battles through auditions and castings with aplomb and continues to be one the the best actresses I know. I am now a contractor at a bank (of all places) where I have a totally different title to any I have every had before. Luckily, my role allows me to pull in all my different skills – writing, communication, industrial theatre and even a bit of choreography. They eventually Googled me, but that is a topic for another article.
This post has been a bit here there and everywhere, but in essense it is a letter to myself and to you about how it is ok for your priorities to change. While 2 years ago I was determined to perform full time and still make myself a financial success, now, I’m simply happy to be able to do what I love. Financial freedom does not always come from where we want it to, but the freedom to make your own choices is always the same.