Written by Isabelle Tyner
Doubt is a very common human emotion. It takes most people a long time to work on their confidence and belief. Unfortunately, once you have overcome doubt in yourself there is still a long way to go, as we have doubt imposed on us by others, as much as ourselves. A very worrying thing that I have noticed, studying and being involved with the arts, is that people love to question your career.
A conversation would usually go like this:
• And what do you want to do?
Oh, I love theatre, so maybe acting or directing!
• …Right. And if that doesn’t work out?
That’s all I want to do. Something in that field.
• Maybe have another hobby to do, just as a backup?
• You know, it’s very competitive!
Or like this:
• What are you studying at A levels?
*Blah, blah, blah* and Drama, I think that’s what I want to do!
• What are you going to do with drama?
Lots of things, I’m not sure yet.
• Oh right.
*Goes and cries*
These conversations are unhealthy and I hope you have never doubted someone’s career in a conversation. A really important concept to dispel is…WHY HAVE A BACKUP? It is very insulting to suggest someone isn’t good enough to pursue a career in something they’re passionate about. Other mainstream career paths are never questioned, and so they shouldn’t be. So why the arts? All us theatre nerds, actors, writers or creatives understand the arts are a competitive sector but look around you! Radio, tv, film, theatre, books, music- these saturate our everyday lives, and yet they are looked down on when someone wants to dedicate their studies to them.
Whilst people pity and doubt us, we know how magical our sector is. Here are a few examples all theatre nerds can relate to:
- The family-like bond you have with your cast.
- The crazy after-show parties you experience, and that you also never speak of again.
- The emotional vulnerability you witness in yourself and those around you during the rehearsal process.
- The warm fuzzy feeling you get from a scene being executed amazingly or hitting that perfect harmony.
- Spotting your close family and friends supporting you in the audience, or supporting your fellow friends in their shows.
- Open night nerves, that makes us stronger each time.
- The horrible on-stage moments that go wrong, make us cry, then make us work harder next time.
- The cast list disappointments that teach us to be happy for others.
- The last show tears and post-show blues that make us strive to get involved in another show ASAP.
Performers, writers, producers, conductors, directors, don’t let anyone shut down your dreams. Especially if you are just starting in the industry or your training. Similarly, just because someone enjoys/studies a subject doesn’t mean they will or have to, go into a career in that sector for the rest of their life. Naturally, over the years desires and career choices change. That isn’t because you doubt yourself, or because the people who told you theatre was competitive were right, you always need to adjust to your needs and goals as you go. Let’s be honest, those conversations are doing no one any good. So, whatever you want to pursue, do it! Work hard, be confident, trust your journey, make contacts and DO IT! Yes, in a few years your priorities may change, career choices may change, but you will never have to find yourself saying ‘what if’.
It is also key to remember, you aren’t defined by your day job. If you work in Tesco’s but in your spare time you do graphic designs- that is just as important. If anything, more so. It shows you are driven, even without payment. So, don’t think ‘But I am not a real graphic designer, because it’s not my full-time job’, somethings take more time and experience than others. Everyone has a different path. Most importantly, catch yourself out if you too are doubting someone’s choices, career or other. It isn’t your place to judge someone on their life, talk about it in private or think it to yourself, but don’t try and belittle someone. There could be many personal reasons someone wants to dedicate themselves to a career path, and you shouldn’t be the one to discourage them.