Setbacks and How to Get Through Them

“We all have setbacks. I mean God knows, it’s just life. We’ll start over.” 

I wanted to make this post about Chicago and why I chose to move here. On September 1st, I reached my two year anniversary with the Windy City. But also on September 1st, I got home from my performance of “Ah, Wilderness” to find that my apartment had been robbed and many of my favorite things were gone.

I couldn’t believe it. I had never gotten anything stolen before. Now all of a sudden my favorite baseball items were gone forever and I had no laptop. Granted, my laptop had seen better days, but I had my “life” saved onto that silly Dell Latitude D620. Headshots, resumes, acting expenses, work expenses, skits, plays, etc. (And before you ask – no I didn’t have anything backed up. Despite the fact that all of my friends tell me to back up my files. Thank god for email, still have the headshot and resume!)

Now when you have your most important acting tool taken from you, what on earth are you supposed to do?! You certainly can’t go to your favorite Starbucks and email your headshot and resume to various theatre companies, that’s for sure. You also can’t check for gigs without internet access. And you surely can’t update your new blog that you had planned on updating just a few days after just writing your first post.

I had reached a setback.

Setbacks suck. There’s nothing else to it. But they’re going to happen. What’s important to learn from these setbacks is that they’re just temporary. And when a week or so has gone by and you haven’t done anything to further your career, you don’t need to make excuses. You have a legit obstacle that will take time to pass. I find that I kick myself when I’m not doing enough. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to realize that there’s a difference between a setback and “it’s the end of the summer so let’s get drunk and not do work” type of deal.

I’ll give another different example: At the end of June, I quit my well-paying desk job for a position waiting tables. I started out with mediocre hours and very few tips. I had no idea what my new schedule was going to be like and hated that I didn’t know my schedule months ahead of time anymore. Having little money on top of adjusting to a new schedule is going to through your daily routine off. It was a setback. But soon enough I learned I could audition and rehearse, while still making time for work and social activities.

While I don’t have the magically answer of how to get through a tough time, I do know this: be surrounded by your friends as much as possible.

I forgot to mention that I was the only one of my roommates home when I learned about the robbery, and would remain so for another few days. At first I was reluctant to share the news with friends. But once I did, I started getting texts and Facebook comments from friends asking when I was free to hangout. My friend Danielle also gracious lent me her laptop because she had a work one that she could use in the meantime. I love my friends.

Ah! I almost posted this without posting a link to a great post from my  dear friend and “partner for life,” Katelyn Collins. She wrote a while back about a similar experience – though hers involved a skateboard.

The quote I started out with is from LOST. Michael had just built a raft to get him and his son off the godforsaken island, only to find that the whole thing burned. After freaking out, he calmed down and explained to his son that “we all have setback,” but was ready to start over. He said that together, they would build a better raft.

While I certainly am not going to build a better computer, you better believe that this setback will not stop me from chasing my dreams. I hope you don’t let setbacks get in the way of yours.

3 thoughts on “Setbacks and How to Get Through Them

  1. Love the post, man! This kind of positivity is fuel to get us through the darkest of times. Not only did you NOT let this defeat you, you actually USED it to learn and grow. Bravo sir.

    Sigh…I can’t help myself: On a hopelessly nerdy side note, your use of the LOST quote (which I LOVE, btw) suggests that perhaps a friend, roommate, or even your blog visitors, may have robbed you (since it was, in fact, Walt who burned the raft all along). I’d keep my eyes open… 😉

  2. JOE! Thanks so much for reading! I find when things like this happen, we have no choice but to take them and learn from them. While they’re never fun, they make us stronger. Kind of like break ups. God knows break ups suck.

    As for you, partner, you are so right. For I will indeed be getting a better laptop….once my bike decides to stop breaking and my customers learn how to tip! 😉

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