At least once a week someone asks me if I miss my musical theatre career. They usually say it with this wistful look on their face that signals to me that they have completely bought into the thought that being an actress is the most glamorous profession on earth. Now, there is no way I’m not going to tell you it wasn’t fun, or poor me, I got to follow my dreams and never have to wonder what would have happened if I had just gone for it because it was fun…. until it wasn’t.
The thing is being an actor is a ridiculously tough job. I always felt like I was walking this crazy tightrope trying to balance my career and my family, as well as, trying to remain a stable, sane individual. I was constantly away from my husband, missing holidays and special occasions and dealing with the fact that I was sacrificing everything to just a get a glimpse of accomplishing my dreams. I was constantly looking for approval outside of myself – craving a good review, thunderous applause, or finally getting the attention of a director, producer, or casting director looking to book the next show. I had to develop a thick skin, yet still have enough vulnerability left over to bring it to my work on stage. Basically, after about 8 years in the business I was a mess.
I felt immense pressure each day to wake up and accomplish something towards my career goals. If I wasn’t working on my audition repertoire, I better be agonizing over that monologue I needed to nail at my next audition, as well as, making sure I stayed in shape, could talk about the latest performance of such and such play, and keep a constant schedule of lessons, coachings, and classes. And this is when I wasn’t booked on a show. If I wasn’t working this hard, you better believe someone else out there in the world was and they would get that next booking instead of me.
And then I had my mind flipped. Maybe it was staring in the mirror for 90 minutes each day drenched in sweat, without a stitch of make-up on. Maybe it was finding The Course of Miracles and my commitment to studying its teachings. Maybe it was finding new friends that practiced yoga each day instead of obsessing about their acting career. Maybe it was all of that.
But all of a sudden I was walking into auditions without giving a damn about what anyone actually thought about what I put out there or what the end result of each audition would be. The people behind the table at the audition had no power over me, or my happiness, and though I was getting callbacks and booking the occasional show, my passion for the lifestyle of it all had waned.
And isn’t it great that we can make a new choice? That though we constantly say to each other, “Life is short,” it actually is kind of long? And that you can choose to go in a new direction at any point and change the entire trajectory of what your life might have been and actually be so much happier and fulfilled? It really is very cool when you start to think about it. And for me, it was to truly understand the difference between giving up and the choice to try something new that I found to be pretty powerful stuff.
Because as I was lying in savasana this morning I was thinking about how wonderful it is to imagine all of the people not only in my tiny corner of suburban Chicagoland that will be going through the Bikram Yoga class today, but throughout the entire world and what an incredible bond we share even though we may never meet or even become Facebook friends. That all day long there are people dripping with sweat, staring in a mirror, and realizing they are more than what they currently believed. That they can accomplish anything they desire and enrich the lives of others just by being, and striving to be, their best self.
And for me that’s the best part. That instead of being focused on working harder and doing more than anybody else, I can just be me working to my fullest potential and trying to inspire others to the same so that we all can live happy and full lives. Because you never know when its time to have your mind flipped. Maybe its today.
So do I miss my musical theatre career? Sure, sometimes, but most of the time I’m so focused on the beauty of today and all that it has in store, that I’m not thinking about that at all. I’m sure that if I’m supposed to get back into it there will be a moment when I know in my heart its the right choice, just as I knew it was the right choice to go to teacher training to take the podium day after day. You’re always being led in the right direction. You just have to listen – to your heart, to the Universe, and most importantly to yourself.
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