Why I’m Leaving the Performing Arts Industry

I few years ago I decided to pursue my life-long dream of becoming an actress.

I’ve now put that dream to bed for the moment.

I want to try and explain, honestly, what’s been going on behind the scenes over the last few months. I feel like I’ve crashed about, making big statements about my career and I want to let you know what’s going on.

Firstly, I’m talking a break from acting. I wish that I could take a break from drama completely but I can’t. I have to keep it up in order to get my degree, but I’m certainly leaving professional acting for the moment.

Secondly, I don’t plan to start a theatre company. At one point I did, but I’ve moved on from there and whatever brief passion I had has faded.

So, what happened?

The last year of my life happened, that’s what.

I learnt exactly who and what I didn’t want to be. I was a horrible person for the last year- my partner and family would probably beg to differ but it certainly feels that way to me.

I always strive to be a good person, to be fair and mature and educated. I always try to see the good in people and in situations. I don’t always succeed in being this person, but I always try. I love people, I love meeting people and talking to them and learning about how they work. I think I’m quite good at making friends.

I wasn’t always this person, the social skills that I have I’ve learnt from watching people for years. I took what I’d learnt from observation and the confidence that I’d gained from acting and combined them to create a relaxed, social persona who can be friends with everyone.

I’m ‘Mum’, I’m the person that people come to when they have problems. I don’t judge and I don’t lose control of my emotions.

The person that I turned into over the last year was someone horrible. It was someone who had emotion (negative emotion) constantly bubbling close to the surface. I snapped and lost my patience with people. I sold myself so short, I felt worthless.

I was constantly being pushed to do things that were outside of my comfort zone. On one hand this was good, and it lead to a lot of personal development- however, there is a line. Our comfort zones are there for a reason, I’ve always been told that I have good instincts, and constantly being told to ignore them was just screwing with my head.

I hate the attitude of the Performing Arts Industry. When we were at the Edinburgh Fringe there were parties where we would be encouraged to schmooze with all of the other directors, producers and actors. I really hated it, I would sit in the corner and feel awkward- and I don’t really ever feel awkward. That was a massive wake-up call for me. I wanted to get out of there.

I hated having to pimp myself out to ‘important’ people. I don’t want to have to fawn over other people- I’ll be nice to everyone, but I’m not sucking up to anyone unless they damn well deserve it.

When I stand up on stage, in front of an audience, I feel a high like nothing else. It’s addictive, that wonderful feeling. However, it comes with a low. I always crash after doing a show- and the crash is horrible, it leaves me questioning whether or not doing the show is worth it.

I was on anti-depressants last winter, I don’t think I can deal with a career that would screw with my mental health as much as acting would.

The life of a working actor is hell, you spend the majority of your time working a crap job whilst trying to get acting work.

I can handle rejection… what I can’t handle is feeling like I’m wasting my life. I can’t handle waking up every morning to work a job where I stack shelves, wipe glasses and generally deal with people looking down at me. I want to wake up and do something that is challenging, I want to make a difference.

The short story: I don’t know what I’m doing with my life yet… but I don’t think it’s going to be acting.

’til next time,

Wren x

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