The Struggles Of Having Acting As A Dream But Not Quite Making It

The Struggles Of Having Acting As A Dream But Not Quite Making It

I've come close to landing leads, but close doesn't matter when it comes to acting.

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There is nothing as exhilarating as the opening night of a show in theater. The energy is electric, the momentary familial bond of a cast during show week is irreplaceable, and acting is the greatest escape I've ever known. In high school, I lived and breathed theater. I would have multiple anxiety attacks during audition weeks, I would work so hard to figure out and become my characters, and I experienced multiple emotional roller coasters when cast lists would be posted. I became a thespian through and through and found a passion for telling someone's stories through acting. I gave acting everything. Sadly, acting is a dream that gives back only once in a blue moon.

My junior year of high school, I auditioned for and joined the advanced production class at my school. I was blown away that I made it in and was just happy to be there. I just loved theater, but I didn't think I had a talent for it necessarily. That year, I got two supporting roles I never expected to get, and I loved every moment of learning to push myself to be bigger than who I am. I found my potential on stage. I thought I found a place I belonged. Spring semester my junior year, I decided I wanted to pursue the lead in our spring play. It wasn't just because I wanted a lead, but reading the script, I fell in love with that character. Her name was Rose, and her parents had an ending relationship and she was ready to give up her own love to discover and pursue her dreams in life. I put everything I had into my audition and callback for Rose. I got compliments from my director and classmates on my performance that made me believe in my self. I wound up getting a role as an extra for that show. I put that much into it and I couldn't even get a named character.

That's acting though. When you do get the role you want, there truly is no better feeling, but when you don't, there isn't a worse blow to your self-esteem than that. I spent high school watching the same handful of people grab the leads up and my senior year, I found out that I'm seen as more of a character actor than someone who can play a lead/love interest. I had a lot of fun with theater my senior year despite having reconciled that apparent fact. I played a fat, old, gassy pirate who was pining over a younger nanny in "Peter and the Starcatcher" and I played an old woman who sang off-key songs when she reminisced on a better life in "1984". Neither of these were roles I had auditioned for, but they're roles I took and made my own, and that really helped me push myself to find out more of what I can do on a stage.

I've since found out that in one of those shows, I was the second choice for the lead. I was also the second choice for Rose in the show we did my junior year. I just auditioned for a show at a local community theater; I went for one of the leads in that too, I wasn't cast. I was also the second choice for that lead. It's becoming the story of my life: close but not quite. Don't get me wrong, close is flattering, but it doesn't really get you anywhere either.

My advanced production class during my senior year consisted of a majority of seniors. We grew up in high school doing theater together, and those last few months of high school, everyone was talking about their futures with theater and acting. Several of my friends were going to school for theater and I wasn't. I thought about making theater my minor, but that would have served no purpose with my psychology major. I, like many of my classmates, many of which who had thrived in theater and had leads frequently, decided to give that part of life up for something more substantial.

Deep down, I still maintain my dream of acting. I would love to go into film and work on incredible movies and so fully become other people to tell so many different stories. I would love even more to be on a long-running tv show where I could grow as my character does over the years being part of the show. All through high school, I was told by many different cast mates, directors, and even random audience members that I have an ability to tell a story with my body through my characters. Acting is storytelling for me, and I want the opportunity to do it on a grand scale some day.

I'm not sure when, but the film is something I want to give a fair, serious shot. Life has been busier than I anticipated with college and I haven't been able to explore opportunities with acting like I had planned. If acting doesn't work out, I have just as much passion for psychology as I do for acting, so I wouldn't be settling in life. I need to know I tried to make it though, and film is even more unforgiving than theater, but if I got on a cast list for a movie or tv show, there would be no better feeling.

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Nowadays, millennials and generation Z'ers are more involved in the workforce and starting their careers sooner than later. One of the factors of this may be the fact that technology that has become increasingly more accessible over the years, and with that came the rise of social media platforms. These give us an insight into the lives of others that we necessarily don't need to know about or wouldn't have known about without them posting it on the platform.

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"This person just got their dream internship and they're only a sophomore."

"Wow, they made their first short film in high school and its nominated??"

"She's 23 and already has her own web series."

These are all thoughts that go through my head and their success does inspire me at times- but what did it take for them to get to that point? Perhaps endless working. Taking on more jobs and tasks than humanly possible. And yet, they're doing it.

"If they can do it, so can I," is my mentality as I undergo as many things as possible for me to try to catch up to the success of my peers. I've been working since I was 17 and my first job was in retail. From then on I've undergone countless of jobs in various fields- administrative jobs through a temp agency that I'm still involved in, freelance gigs through my township to hone my production skills, as well as a part-time job at a movie theater just because I need more money for better equipment so that I could have a web series at 23 myself- all of these on top of going to school full-time.

To many people, this may seem like a lot. To others, it may be the tip of the iceberg. I know some people who work AND go to school full-time, on top of outside responsibilities such as maybe family obligations, or trying to maintain a social life or the most important and often underrated things: self-care. I have learned the importance of self-care recently and I realized that it isn't something that you just have the time for on your schedule- you have to make the time. Now on top of my regular duties, I had self duties to attend to. This was something I was never used to so I still struggle to find time for myself. But lately, my body has been reminding me whether I like it or not, to take a break.

I thought it was just feeling "tired," but this was a whole new level of tiredness. It's a complete shut-down, like performing a force shutdown on a computer or laptop. That's what I relate it to. This feeling of intense exhaustion to the point of near collapse is called burnout. I have heard the term before, but didn't really know what it meant until I experienced it. It got to a point in which I had to go to the hospital. The burnout was not the only cause of my hospitalization, I had mental and physical health conditions that were not attended to prior to it. However, because of the burnout, I realized that I was doing too much and I was not okay.

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