The following Career Dispatch essay was written by Caitlin McGee, who stars on ABC’s “Home Economics.”
Hello, younger self! First of all, stop cutting your own bangs. Just stop. Second of all, breathe. For the love of everything, BREATHE. The amount of pressure you put on yourself, on every choice in every audition, is not helping you. You feel that if you aren’t hustling and working yourself to the bone, aren’t suffering for your art, then you’re not working hard enough. What a load of garbage. Dear little baby Caitlin, your identity should not and cannot be entirely wrapped up in your job.
There’s no such thing as an “aspiring actor.” You’re an actor, period. No matter what any well-meaning but tactless family member says, there is no “making it.” You have this idea in your head that someday you’ll be satisfied, someday you’ll feel successful and accomplished. Jobs won’t bring that. Find comfort in the uncomfortable. Untangle your sense of self from the jobs you get and don’t get. Love what you do, but do not rely on it to complete you as a person. Work hard and let your work speak for itself.
Keep valuing kindness and putting effort into it. The most rewarding part of this very odd career choice is collaborating with a huge array of truly incredible people. And a few stinkers, too. But even those experiences will be better if you’re kind. You’ll hear things about yourself, to your face or through online trolls, that will feel crushing in the moment. Remember those people are deeply insecure and it’s almost never about you. There are some people that are just, as the great Taylor Swift said, mean.
Maintain relationships with old friends. This is an important one. There are people you’ll meet that make you feel like a giant. That will tell you you’re the biggest talent they’ve ever met and blow more smoke than Snoop. Don’t trust them too much. Be skeptical of people who tell you everything you want to hear. But also, take the compliment. Compliments are nice. Trust your best friend who saw you pee your pants on a tire swing. Trust your auntie who thought you were a Broadway star in your high school production of “Chicago.” When people seem like they want something from you it’s probably because they do.
Get a life. Seriously, build a life you’re proud of. Take classes that challenge you and listen to teachers when they tell you to get a hobby. Learn how to grow plants and build a table. Call your parents, and then turn off your phone. Refusing to learn to bake doesn’t smash the patriarchy, it just means you don’t get cookies. Stop trying to be cool, it’s exhausting, and being a straight up weirdo is way more fun. XO
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