As an aspiring actor, you’re a hustler. Running on the fuel of your dreams, you spin through auditions, classes, and rehearsals, hoping that one day you’ll “make it.” This requires nearly all of your time and energy and takes an extreme toll on your psyche.
But despite being the hardest working troupe around, no one pays you to pursue a career in acting. Cue the “day job.” You take orders. You walk dogs. You babysit kids. Name a job with a flexible schedule, and you’ll do it just to pay the bills. Because when work isn’t coming in right away, you need something.
But walking down the unstable road of a performer is hard enough without added stress. So don’t let the job you’re doing to support your passion bring you unnecessary anxiety. Not sure if your survival job has morphed into a destructive force? Here are three ways to figure it out.
1. It’s impeding your ability to book a gig.
Major red flag! If a job isn’t giving you the flexibility to work around an audition or take off to rehearse a project, it’s 100 percent time to find a new one. You have to remind yourself that acting is the priority and the job is merely a means to an end. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming so reliant on a job that it begins to eat away at the time you should spend on your career. That’s why the old cliché that most waiters are actors still rings true: waiting tables tends to provide a flexible schedule.
2. It’s not stimulating your creativity.
While being creative in a day job seems like an anomaly, I promise it’s not. As actors, every experience you have can be used to further your craft. Take waiting tables. While it doesn’t appear to be a creative job, some actors find that it helps develop their people skills and keeps them physically fit (from all the moving around).
Aim to secure a survival job that feeds your curiosity and keeps you on your toes. If it doesn’t, you may want to look elsewhere.
3. It’s making you unhappy.
This might seem like an obvious sign but sometimes we can get so caught up in the grind that our happiness gets swept into the wings. Ideally, you want to find a day job that does not cause you pain—trying to be an actor comes with enough of that. So take a deep breath and sit with your thoughts for a moment. Ask yourself if this job is guiding you forward or holding you back. You’ll know the answer.
Remember that every actor’s journey is utterly subjective. At the end of the day, all you can do is what’s right for you. Just keep on hustling.
*This post was originally published on May 16, 2018. It has since been updated.
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