When we’re kids we doodle our way through life. We try a little of this, a little of that, and most often we don’t take any of it too seriously. We can be astronauts, movie stars, doctors, and soldiers all in one afternoon. Nothing leaves too deep a mark, at least, not yet.
As we get older we start to wear grooves into our lives: our favorite song on repeat, a favorite food. Some things are just comfortable from the very first time you try them, and living with the familiar is soothing.
In college we ‘choose our path’. Pick a major and decide what field (you hope) you’ll be working in. Some people choose a degree based purely on love, and some take more practical matters into consideration. But how practical is any 20-year-old, really? How do you know what will be important to you at 30, or beyond?
I followed the rules, as I understood them. I fell in love with acting in the eighth grade. I went to college, discovered the technical world of theatre was where I fit, graduated with honors, and began looking for work in my chosen field of stage management. I had a day job to pay the bills for several years, but kept pursuing theatre, working crew gigs and focus calls to stay close. Then I got hired for what I had quite literally defined as my dream job back in my senior year of college. It was wonderful and amazing. I got to meet some talented and good people (and some who aren’t either one) and occasionally be a part of creating new theatre from the ground up. I was doing exactly what my 22 year old self wanted to do for the rest of her life.
Except now, I’m 38. I still have that same job, at the same theatre, eleven years later. And it’s not my dream job anymore. There are still parts of it I love, but the good no longer balances out the bad. The things I find frustrating now would never have occurred to me at 22. I always knew the job was evenings and weekends, but eleven years of working evenings and weekends, with no possibility of taking vacation when I’m on contract, is wearing me out. Many of the friends I’ve met through theatre have left the business and gotten a “grown-up” job, which means their schedules no longer mesh with mine and I rarely see them. The shows are all starting to run together, and I’m sure as hell not in this for the money. I think it might be my turn to find out what’s after theatre. So, what’s next?
That’s where I freeze. My future is blank, uncarved, unwritten. My future can be anything I want it to be. That much possibility is paralyzing.
My daily life is so etched into specific patterns I’m not even sure I can break out of them anymore. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s routine; inertia carries me through the daily tasks without having to think about them. How do I change the habits of a decade?
Or worse, what if I do try something new, and hate it? What if the very first mark I put on the next page of my life is ugly and wrong and it will always be there and I can’t take it back, and … gah.
I try to convince myself that a mistake can be written over, or incorporated into a new, larger design. The important thing is to start. I’m taking classes at a local community college, pursuing something that will be a job not a passion. But it would be a job that will let me have a life that matches the lives of the people I love, that I can fill with other passions.
I am still in my groove, my rut, but eyeing the open space ahead. Now I just need the courage to jump -
***This is my entry for week 25 of LJ Idol for the topic "uncarved block". The topic post is here, and we're about to be at the top 25 so you should go read everyone, and then vote for your favorites in the poll. And to the folks on my flist who have been hearing me talk about leaving theatre for years; I know, boy who cried wolf etc. Apparently this is a slow process for me. ***