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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How a bunny rabbit reminded me to be happy

In 2009 I decided I was going to move to Chicago.

I was about to enter my senior year. During class the previous semester, a professor mentioned some cities around the country that are great for pursuing theatre. Chicago was one of them. Seeing that I had an aunt and uncle living in the city, plus always wanted to try living outside of New England, I decided to check it out.

I contacted my aunt and uncle and booked a flight.

While I don’t remember all the details, I remember the first night of my first visit very well. The weather was nice, so I went for a walk with the two of them around their neighborhood. I specifically remember this because we saw a little guy cross our way…

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Actual bunny from that day 

Okay I lied. That wasn’t the actual bunny. (But it is AN actual bunny, guys…)

I wasn’t used to seeing bunnies randomly on the sidewalk. 21 year old Tony was thrilled. That trip, I decided I was moving to Chicago. (I suppose a couple of other things influenced my decision.)

It wasn’t an easy transition after the “I’m going to move!” honeymoon phase ended. I remember being scared about so many things: Would I have any friends? Would I get cast in anything? Will I be able to afford my rent? How do I even get an apartment? We’ll save Long story short, it all worked out. (A lot of credit goes to my family and other kind souls…we’ll save that for a future post 🙂 )

Fast forward seven years and two weeks:

I was taking a walk. It was another beautiful night. I usually don’t take walks at night, but I needed to get out of my apartment for a bit. I was stressed. I felt behind on my goals. I was about to enter hell week for my workout program (check #TonyDoesHell week for updates!) and wasn’t looking forward to it. And we won’t even get into the confidence issues I was having that night.

Then I saw a little guy. A little guy I hadn’t seen in seven years….

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Same actual bunny from that day

Okay I’m totally kidding. There’s no way it was the same one.

But I did see another bunny rabbit. And I thought back to my first day visiting Chicago and realized what I have been missing: I’ve overcame a lot to get to where I am. Now I’m living in my own apartment, paying my own bills, have an agent, and am auditioning for projects that make me stupid excited just to show up for. In comparison to where I started, I realized this: I am successful.

It’s easy to get weighed down by everything that life does. I think it’s even easier to forget how far we’ve come and all the good things are happening because it’s so freaking simple to focus on the negatives.

I hope you’ll join me in continuing to seek the good things that are right in front of us. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Let’s go get ‘em, friends.

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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 🙂 

Wanna see more? Check out my actor website or YouTube channel!

Wanna make sure you never miss a post? Click the “Follow” button in the right corner to enter your email and subscribe! 

When Being Right Doesn’t Work

Post originally written for parlepost.com. 

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My name is Tony. And I’m extremely stubborn.

Despite being stubborn, I love to make people feel happier, more confident, and have a better understanding of themselves. In order to have this understanding, it helps to understand others. Which means, if I want to help people in this area, I must do the same. So I’m working on this whole “stubborn” thing and focusing on how to listen better – particularly when I don’t want to…

Click to read the full post! 

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“Tony. Why do I have to click links now?” 

So glad you asked. Last week I shared that I’m a contributing writer to parlepost.com. In the hopes that I can stay on the team, I’ve asked readers to check out my content on their page.

“So like, is this content any different?” 

Nope! Still me talking in my own voice about taking control and being a happier person.

“Does this mean you’re done posting original content here?” 

Nope! But for now, I’m linking the post that are up.

“Okay fine. I kind of like your content regardless…so…are you available for hire?”

You bet. Shoot me an email at tony.rossi@gmail.com to discuss what I can do for you. Or check out my very official posting here.

Dear Actors…..

Hi. It’s Tony.

You might know me, you might not. (Either way it’s cool.)

I just wanted to share some thoughts with you as a 29 year old actor, still working day jobs, and very much looking forward to…not working day jobs. I’m not where I want to be yet. And I have my share of “Am I doing this right?” days. That said – I know I’m exactly where I need to be and exactly on the right track.

Three years ago, I started reading personal development books. “Tony… I’ve never heard of personal development.” Here’s the Tony-version: Personal development involves books, materials, and other types of formal/informal training that either give you a better understanding of yourself or of others. You’ll learn about these things in a positive and productive way. With consistent application, you become more realistic about your goals while remaining optimistic about the obstacles. 

Personal development has changed my life in a lot of ways. But if I had to sum it up in one word, it’d be this one: confidence. I feel better about myself. I feel better about how I look. I feel unstoppable when it comes to my goals. It’s pretty bad ass. And because of personal development, I’ve found I bring a better “Tony 2.0” to my acting career. I’m unapologetic for who I am as a person, so I’m unapologetic when I audition. I’m more confident when presenting myself. And if I mess up in class – eh. It makes me more human. Not a bad thing at all. 

This wonderful thing I found isn’t something everyone knows about. I see a lot of people who could be crushing it in their field, if only they had more confidence. But fear not, friends. I got good news: Personal development can be learned by anyone. In fact, you’re hearing this from a guy who use to loathe reading. (Unless the title started with “Harry Potter and….”) 

So if you’re not a reader, not into personal development, and haven’t yet gained that confidence that you year for, I’ll share a little secret with you that I picked up. This is just for you. And it’s this – You are awesome. 

Seriously. You’re a badass. Think about it: You’re purusing an acting career. You’re here for a reason. And unless you find yourself hating the stage, hating the camera, or dreading the thought of your friends and family all crowding on the couch to watch your debut on Chicago Fire, please know you’re doing the right thing and you’re on the right path. (Especially if you think you’re, like, way behind from where you should be.)

So do yourself a favor – realize right now – yes, RIGHT NOW – that you’re a badass and don’t need to apologize for any “imperfections” that may or may not exist. You’re not doing the class a disservice by bringing your weird interpretation to the role. You’re not bothering the casting associates who are sitting in for your general call. If they are bothered, it’s because they need a career change – not you. So take charge. Acknowledge your inner awesomeness. You. Fucking. Deserve it. 

It’s time you acknowledged it. Actually, you should have started this yesterday, but I’ll cut you some slack. So please. There’s a lot of people out there waiting for you to show up, be you, and even pay you for doing what you love. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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PS – If you’re a Salem State University student, please hear these words…but also realize you’re on the right track. After sitting in and chatting with you guys this past week, I’ve found that you guys are well aware of just how fucking awesome you are. Kudos, my friends.

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Tony is a theatre and film actor living in Chicago, just up the street from Wrigley Field 🙂 He loves helping others to become the happiest version of themselves so that they can live more fun, fulfilled lives on their own terms.

He also loves to write blogs on how to do this. 

Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life, or to inquire if he can do some writing for you!  You can reach him attony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you hit that “share” button for friends and family to see 😉 

How To Get More Stressed When Things Aren’t Working

I remember going through a phase when I was younger: I couldn’t get a girlfriend for the life of me….

*All of Tony’s friends start to chime in saying that it’s not any different these days -*

…and I blamed everyone but myself.

*Tony’s friends accept this answer*

In my mind, every girl that was interested in me wasn’t my type. All my friends were dating or had beautiful women throwing themselves at them (at least that’s what it seemed like). But not me. No sir! I was “the guy that always attracted the wrong girls.” It was very unfair…

You’d think with this mindset, I was clearly doing all the right things: Asking girls out, flirting with the ones I was interested in, and putting myself in opportunities to meet more singles. Surely I was doing all that…

…I wasn’t doing that. I was too busy complaining about the girls I wasn’t interested. I never actually considered that I was single because I was just sitting there waiting for “the right one” to present herself, rather than taking any action myself.

This silly story serves as an example of something many of us are guilty of – putting our energy into the wrong areas.

Ever apply for a new job? This one has stress written all over it.

When this happens, we might hate our current job or become desperate to get any job. If you’re really stressed, you’re likely to think a lot of negative things. (I know a thing or two about this.) We’re unable to get an interview.  We have several interviews with no bites. Or maybe our field isn’t hiring. Yet all of these situations are out of our control. What we can control is how often we check for jobs. We can control how much time we put into looking for jobs. And we can definitely control how much time and energy we put into finding a new job. (Sidenote – have you considered going the extra mile and doing something uncomfortable like making a phone call?)

Next time you find yourself not getting what you want, double check to make sure you’re not getting upset over the things you can’t control. It’s a waste of energy and you’re going to burn out. Instead, focus on the action you took and acknowledge that as a win.

“You can’t build on success you don’t acknowledge” – Dallas Travers

I like to journal my “Wins Today” before bed. Looking for a new job? Write down any applications you sent. Did you go on an interview? That’s a win too. Update your resume? #Wining. Putting your energy into this feels great. You’ll start to realize you’re a winner regardless of the outcome.

Don’t burn yourself out on things you can’t control. Come on. That’s not very fair, is it?

(I’m talking to you, younger TonyinChicago…)

Go get ‘em, friends.

It’s not that you can’t lose weight. It’s that you’re choosing to keep it.

The first time I had a clarity session with Courtney Rioux, we chatted about my job as a server. I was miserable and couldn’t wait to get out. She asked me if I could quit. I answered something along the lines of, “I wouldn’t be able to do that and still earn as much as I’m making now.” Her response wasn’t one that I liked:

“Okay. So you’re choosing to stay.”

Excuse me? Um, no. That’s not what I said at all. Was she not listening? I thought she was supposed to be helping me…

Of course, she was right. Sure, quitting my job and replacing my income would be difficult. But difficult is not impossible. And too often we confuse the two.

Think about it:

Work: Can you really not quit your job? Or is the thought of applying to a new one overwhelming? Or maybe you were in my boat and can’t imagine a job where you earn enough, yet have the same (or better) schedule?

Money: Can you really not afford new headshots? An acting class? Seeing a play at Steppenwolf? Or are you choosing to spend your money on Starbucks, take out food, and drinks on the weekend?

Weight loss: Are you really and truly incapable of losing weight? Or are you choosing to give into instant gratification, prone to skipping workouts when you get home from work, and unwilling to invest in a sustainable meal plan? (Note: A sustainable meal plan means you’re not starving yourself. You hopefully have a mix of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, while limiting healthy fats and carbs. But still eating them. More on that later. Or in my inbox later tonight if you need to know this now.)

I promised you a story.

Several months after that clarity session with Courtney, I finally pulled the plug. I quit my job. It was scary, but I knew I’d never have to be handed a dozen credit cards that were all paying the same bill, while I had four other tables also waiting for their checks. (Okay I’m stopping. It’s making me cringe just thinking about it.)

About a month later, I got a phone call from another job I had applied for as a brand ambassador. This introduced to the world of promotional events and in store demonstrations. It’s not always glorious, but most of these gigs either have a high day rate, or pay upwards of $20 an hour. I could easily replace my income from serving with this type of work. My choice to stay at my job was limiting me from exploring solutions that I didn’t even know existed.

This isn’t to say that any of the excuses I shared above aren’t justified. Almost all of those are ones I’ve said myself. Rather, with a consistent commitment to your own self-improvement, you’re capable of so much more than you ever thought possible.

So here’s my question to you: Why would you choose not to go after that life?

Go get ‘em, friends.

Wanna know how I started connecting with Courtney? She had just held one of her free calls, open to anyone. She doesn’t do these often, but she’s got one tonight (Thursday 10/29) at 6:30pm central/7:30pm eastern. I’ll be on. I hope you will too.