GUEST POST: Eli Van Sickel

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: tony.rossi@gmail.com. 

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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…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂You can also find me on facebook, instagramYouTube, or check out my actor website

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The bitch that is social media (and how to deal with it)

Isn’t social media a bitch?

Let’s be honest – because I actually love that bitch – we all like to show our highlight reels.

There are a few times a year when I’m shouting to the roof tops how wonderful my life is on social. These times are when I visit home.

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Shoutout to my friend Heather – whom I first met in Chicago – for getting me into FENWAY FREAKING PARK! 

 

I love my Boston roots. I love seeing the people I love whom I can only see a few times a year. I love driving through curvy, hilly, roads that so much more enoyable because you’re sitting shotgun. Follow me on social and you know what to expect during these trips.

This most recent trip? No different. A 26 hour visit that surprised family – and even myself!  It taught me a lot regarding how to best take advantage of the little time you do have on trips like these. In a future post, I’ll share more about that.

Truth be told, I hit a really, really low moment during this most recent trip. And I think it’s worth talking about for those who think I have my shit together during times like this – or at all.

The #notperfect morning

This is the part where I tell you I’ve been paranoid about being sick lately….because I keep getting sick. And that morning I woke up with a sore throat…

I was sick. Again. On vacation. After just having a cold on my last vacation.

The #notperfect process

“Maybe it’s just allergies,” I thought.

I attempted my morning workout….

“NOPE. Not allergies. I’m sick and this is terrible.” And because this had been a recurring theme for me, I wasn’t just upset. I was PISSED. I was frustrated. I was….honestly, a little hopeless. I had a breakdown of tears before my shower. And during my shower. A few more after. I felt broken.

The ultimate negative chatter

Now, I always hear those negative voices in my head telling me I’m not enough. But this time – I was the negative chatter. I was telling every one of my imaginary nice voices to STFU. I didn’t want any positive motivation. I was pissed. Nothing was going to help. I kept thinking….

I don’t care if there’s a lesson in this.

I’m F-ing sick of lessons through setbacks.

I don’t care if this is something I’ll appreciate five years from now

I don’t care that others have it worse than me (even though I know it’s true)

I don’t want to “just be positive”

I’m mad and I’m going to stay that way.

I don’t want to know “that it’s all going to be okay”

Okay fine. I did know deep down that everything was going to be alright. I just didn’t know when. When you don’t have a timeline – it sucks. When you keep having repeating patterns show up in a really short time frame – it really sucks. When you keep having that repeating pattern show up in a short time frame and it keeps showing up during your vacation? Don’t even get me started……

And then….

It was over.

No seriously. The pain was over.

Sure, my throat was still dry. But after taking some ibuprofen? I was literally fine. That headache I felt? Gone a few minutes later. Next thing I knew, I was having lunch with my Dad in his office, meeting his coworkers, and enjoying the largest salad that I’ve ever had. (I might have added a few extra pieces of chicken knowing that Dad was paying…)

The thing was – I wasn’t actually sick!

Now allergies, on the other hand…..that’s a different story. But I wasn’t low in energy. I wasn’t aching all over. And when I ended up going for a long walk in Boston later? I was FINE.

I had freaked out for nothing.

The point?

The point is I didn’t talk about this at all on social media.

Last my friends saw – I was a happy freaking camper using #BostonYoureMyHome hashtags left and right.

I don’t like dumping dirty laundry on social media….

 

Example: Screaming baby on my flight back?! FML….

The truth: You’re on vacation. You’re on a freaking airplane. You’re fine.

 

Example: I JUST GOT TOWED! WTF?!

The truth: You’re about to go through an inconvenient couple of days. You’ll pay a fee. And then – you’ll be fine. In fact, a year from now – you’ll be laughing at this. You’re fine.

 

Example: Why are people so annoying?

The truth:  You are so annoying…..and you’re not fine….)

(Sorry. That last one was just for me. And I’ve been that annoying person, so I’ll stop talking….)

While I don’t love dumping dirty laundry onto others, I also believe in being honest. But when it comes to my health – I’m more private these days. I learned that posting about so much as a head cold can result in your peers thinking you only have three weeks to live…..long story short, I’ve become more quiet about certain things like this.

Again – the point???

The point is don’t believe everything you see.

The point is don’t believe that those awesome, happy, successful people are like that all the time.

Just because someone is happy in one area of their life doesn’t mean they’re happy in all areas.

Just because someone is in love doesn’t mean they’re fulfilled socially.

Just because someone has landed their dream job doesn’t mean they have their finances in order.

Just because someone has a plethora of friends doesn’t mean they’re happy romantically.

Just because your mentors are the “smartest people in the world” doesn’t mean they have all their shit together…..

This isn’t to discourage you. This is to remind you that you’re not alone.

The pros that you emulate? They struggle too.

Guys. We’re all in this together. We’re all part of the huge traffic jam that you see everyday after work. We’re all the people who can be laughing hysterically one minute and crying profusely the next. And we’re people who can flip our emotions in an instant – for better or worse.

You’re not alone. There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s okay to not feel okay all the time.

You are enough. Especially if you have flaws and quirks.

Let’s go get ‘em, my friends.

 

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Got questions? Want to me to give an empowerment talk to your group or school? Email me: tony.rossi@gmail.com. 

***   ***   ***

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…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂You can also find me on instagramYouTube, or check out my actor website

I started the day with an ugly cry. Here’s how it ended

Ever gotten sick when it’s a really, really inconvenient time to get sick?

…I did. This week.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that this has been a common theme for me lately. Being sick is my “happiness kryptonite.” And when it just keeps happening, it’s easy to get more and more frustrated.

This week, however, was a really bad week to get sick. I was going to be working long days, early mornings, and only had one day off amongst it all. To top it all off, I had woken up on day two of said sickness and barely slept all night. 

I’d say “insert grumpy Tony here,” but that wouldn’t even cut it. I was frustrated, sad, angry, and all of the negative emotions all at once. I even had the thought, “What if I just called off today? I know it’s the busiest day for me to do that, and I’d probably lose this job, but I really don’t think I can handle this…..”

The following #SundayVideo, which I do every week on Facebook, shares how I felt by the end of that day. (It’s about three minutes!)

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(I might have spent the first 20 seconds talking about the ridiculously high ceilings….Click the screenshot to watch!) 

This isn’t to say you’re going to experience the same thing after having a shit morning. It’s to say that sometimes things work out for the better when there’s no evidence to support it.

Hang in there if you’re going through a struggle of your own. Embrace that it’s okay to not have it figured out. You’ll be okay – even if it’s not that day.

Let’s go get ’em, friends.

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Want to me to give an empowerment talk to your group or school? Email me! tony.rossi@gmail.com. 

***   ***   ***

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…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂You can also find me on instagramYouTube, or check out my actor website

Embrace Getting Older

I turned 30 this week.

It’s made me think a lot about how we think about age and the (often negative) meaning we give to getting older.

I found this gem on my facebook page from 2006. I was 18.

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Let me tell you something about year 18 old Tony – he did NOT like getting older…..

He didn’t realize that college would not be, in fact, where he “found” himself. (No offense Salem State – I loved you. Truly.)

He didn’t realize that he’d still have confidence issues after graduating.

He didn’t realize that not everyone graduates college – in fact, some people don’t literally make it past college.

18 year old Tony didn’t realize that life is precious and that it’s a privilege to get older.

Guys – I’m so grateful to be 30. I’m VERY much #notperfect when it comes to happiness and self confidence – so please don’t ever think I got this shit figured out. But I *am* happier and more confident than I’ve ever been. I enjoy life a hell of a lot more.

More so – it breaks my heart that there are friends of mine who didn’t make it to 30, or didn’t make it much long after that.

I hope everyone learns to embrace age and getting older – whatever that comes with. Health issues. Wrinkles. Gray hair (trust me – I have several already.) And whatever new insecurities that come up.

We’re alive. And we’re better for it.

I love you guys. Here’s to another 30  (Hopefully more, please.)

Let’s go get ’em.

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Got questions? Want to me to give an empowerment talk to your group or school? Email me: tony.rossi@gmail.com. 

***   ***   ***

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…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂You can also find me on instagramYouTube, or check out my actor website

This year sucked so far….until it didn’t anymore (How things flipped in 24 hours)

“I’m over 2018.”

Drink if you’ve said or hear that so far this year. (Preferably something caffeinated. Not alcoholic. C’mon guys, it’s morning….)

While I think we give too much attention and energy to a calendar date in order to justify our feelings of a “shitty time” or “season of suck,” I certainly was not off to a good start this year. Between Christmas and now, I’ve caught three colds. I also banged up my rib cage which is causing a plethora of discomfort and preventing me from doing my favorite workouts. (Shut up. I like working out…) And sleep? Ha! Let’s not talk about that right now….#sleepproblems

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Thankfully my new memory foam mattress toper is helping….Beaker, not so much. 

 

So last Saturday, as I was finishing up some work prior to a dreaded day job shift, I got a missed call. And a voicemail. And a text. (When you have all three, you know it’s important.) Turns out it was my stage manager. And I was going on for the role I was understudying. In six hours.

Say whaaaaaat?!

By Sunday night, I had gotten to perform twice at one of my favorite theatres, stayed up wayyy past my bed time (at the same said theatre), and got an outpour of love on social media from my peers when they heard the news.

Suddenly I was saying, “Wow, it’s been a really good year so far!”

….wait a minute.

Didn’t I just say that it had been a crappy year so far?

Yes, the health setbacks were frustrating. But I was feeling perfectly fine and healthy for my performances. And now that I can list “performed” on my resume, not to mention the cool updates I get to share with agents and casting directors?! Woo-hoo! Suddenly I felt very abundant.

All this is to say is that you never know when things can change unexpected. This also can go reverse. While this isn’t a reason to “wait for the other shoe to drop” when things are going well, it is a reason to be grateful for the good things as they come.

So, my friend, if you’re going through a struggle right now – I hear you. I really hear you. In fact, despite this awesome weekend, I still have some things to figure out. (Like making up for the hours I lost at the day job this weekend…..#actorproblems). Just know that I’m rooting for you in the meantime. And please for the love of god, don’t hole yourself up in your apartment and play the “woe is me” game. Instead, feel your feelings and reach out and talk to someone. If you’re into therapy (and I am) – perfect. But if not, an empathetic friend who won’t condescend you will do the trick.

Let’s all go get ‘em, this year, friends.

 

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“Hinter” runs at Steep Theatre until March 17th! 

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Got questions? Want to me to give an empowerment talk to your group or school? Email me: tony.rossi@gmail.com. 

***   ***   ***

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…)

If we’ve never meet – shoot me a tweet!  Would love to hear how you found this 🙂You can also find me on instagram, YouTube, or check out my actor website