What is up, my friends?!
Today you’re getting a break from yours truly to hear from a friend of mine 🙂
Eli Van Sickel and I have a few things in common: A passion for the arts, engaging in uplifting activities, inspiring others, and most of all – baseball. I asked Eli to share some words for this week’s post.
I tend to write on the side of, “Do what you love and make it a career.” But what about if you don’t want to make it a career? Is it okay to work a “real job” when you’ve been chasing a career in the arts all your life? Or is that considered ‘settling?’
If you’ve ever wondered that – this week’s post by Eli is for you.
How I Learned to Stop Taking My Passions So Seriously
I was always career-minded. Whether it was a product of my upbringing, my culture, the expectations I assumed people had of me, or the expectations I had of myself…I don’t know why but I grew up always thinking in terms of career paths and life plans. This was constant, regardless of how many times I changed my mind about what I wanted to do, which I did fairly often during my teens and early twenties. My brain would not allow me to just love doing something; I had to make it a serious career.
When I fulfilled the fantasy of my childhood and became a sportscaster for my college radio station, I had to add a double major in communications and start planning a career path in radio sports. When I rekindled my love of professional wrestling, I had to look up wrestling “schools” in the region where I might receive training as a referee. My fascination with politics (and, let’s be honest, my love of The West Wing) led me to focus all of my energy on becoming a political campaign operative…for about a month and a half. It was not enough for me to be passionate about playing music and writing songs and self-recording my own albums; I had to try and figure out how to make it as a touring musician! And I cannot tell you how many times I changed my mind about what my niche in theatre would be. But the whole time, I was always looking at graduate school, and I was always making five or ten year plans. And I was ABSOLUTELY going to reach a level of success by the time I turned 30. That was a must. It was more than a must. It was a given.
But then the rest of my twenties happened. I moved around a bit. I was unemployed for a bit. I did some things I had hoped to do and I did some things I had never dreamed of doing. And very few of the plans I had made came to fruition. I wound up taking a risk and going back to school for something totally different: college student affairs. What started out as a possible “day career” has turned into my primary focus for awhile (at least for the next two years as I finish my masters degree). And now that I’m almost 30, and now that I’ve spent some time removed from the creative/artistic/showbusiness/theatrical life that I’ve known, I have a newfound perspective: I have not given up the artistic, passionate side of myself. Now I see it in a different way.
Having the guts to pursue a career in something you’re passionate about is a blessing. But I am finally at a point in my life where I can allow myself to pursue my passion without making it my career. I find it incredibly freeing and joyous to be able to go to perform for the sake of performing. I am happy to sit in a living room with friends and play my guitar. I can write a screenplay not because I want to make a career as a screenwriter, but just because I’ve got an idea that I want to try and put on paper. I no longer have any expectations of myself as a theatremaker, which means that I am open to whatever experiences might come my way.
As an artist, it will always be easy to blame yourself for not being rich and famous. It will always be easy to compare yourself to your peers and your colleagues. It will always be easy to hate the prospect of having a “day career” and it will always be easy to look down on the artists who do. And, if you are like me, it will always be easy to take something you love too seriously. But I’m here to tell you that it is easier still to just create your art. However you can, just create your damn art. Or better yet, find LOTS of things that you’re passionate about and PURSUE them however you can…and don’t feel like you have to devote your whole LIFE to it!
As Tony will tell you, so much of the pressure we experience is actually self-made. Once you give yourself permission to experience the joy that your passions bring you, free from apology or expectations, it will make a lot of things easier.
Eli Van Sickel is currently pursuing a masters degree in College Student Personnel at Western Illinois University. He previously spent years as a professional theatre maker (primarily sound designing) in Chicago, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and throughout Indiana. He holds a masters degree in Theatre Studies from Illinois State University and a bachelors in Theatre from Indiana State University. He shares Tony’s passion for positivity and personal development.
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Got questions? Want Tony to give an empowerment talk to your group or school? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thanks for reading!
By the way, I’m Tony. I live in Chicago. (Duh.) I’m an actor and blogger living right up the street from Wrigley Field.
My blog is here to help others take control and live a more authentically positive life on their terms. Since working with a coach and learning more about personal development, I’ve started sharing my learnings with others. (I have a lot…)