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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What Harry Potter Taught Me About Myself

I used to think I was going to be a Harry Potter when I grew up.

I was eleven. I was a skinny guy with glasses. It wouldn’t be long before they would announce that the Harry Potter series would be turned into a movie series. As someone who was eager to fit in with the popular kids and maybe get some female attention for a change, I made the decision: I was going to be cast as Harry Potter. 

Note: I had zero acting experience. I am not British. Don’t bother asking me how I planned on getting an audition. (Without a passport.) 

Many of us go through phases as we grow older. Our passions, goals, and hobbies change. Which makes those one or two (or five) things that we continuously love even more special. 

I have always loved baseball. My passion for baseball never left. And it was because of my passion for baseball that I found myself hanging out with the techies within the theatre department during my sophomore year. Previously I had always been hanging out with the actors. Since learning about how much they loved baseball, I realized that they shared the same passion for the game as I did. We hung out, watched games, drank beer, and caught Red Sox games together. I had found my crowd. 

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2008 Playoffs. The Red Sox were down. Unfortunately those rally caps didn’t work. 

Today, I live in Chicago. There’s no shortage of Cub fan stories that you can find. Some of which will probably move you to tears. Which is why I believe that baseball is truly a special game. And is much more than just a game, regardless of your team affiliation. 

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I encourage everyone living in Chicago and surrounding areas to take a closer look at those around you during the month of April. Are your friends smiling more? Are your coworkers approaching their (non baseball) work with an extra zing? I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s baseball season. It’s a special time of year. 

Finding those things we’re passionate about makes life a whole lot more fun. 

Don’t downplay those passions, friends. You’re robbing others of your joy. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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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! 

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 😉 

Be you. Not your friend.

Actor friends. Stop me if you heard this one. 

You did a show. It went great. You loved your cast. The show closes. Next thing you know, someone from your cast goes on to book a bunch of awesome things….

-A role with your all time favorite theatre company

-A speaking role on a Chicago television show

-Another speaking on a non Chicago television show. 

Meanwhile, you were…

-Working in more shows, but not ones that were getting the attention or publicity as your friend’s

-Continue to work day jobs that you don’t like. 

-Later find yourself in between projects and embarrassed to answer the question, “So…what are you working on right now?” 

I’m a big fan of Marie Forleo. She spoke about comparison in a recent episode of “Marie TV” (which you can watch in full here). I’ve included some of my favorite quotes: 

“There are not limited spots on the podium.” 

“[The comparison impulse] is addictive, deadly, and will destroy your happiness if you let it.”

“People say, ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ I’ve called it ’The hamburgler of happiness!’”  

When one person is succeeding next to us in our field, It’s very easy to get upset. But here’s the really crazy part of all this – most of the time we don’t bother to examine why that person is ahead of us. Personally I think our energies are better directed at our own goals and tasks, but let’s pretend “you can’t help it” for a minute….(For the record, I think that you “can’t help it” it’s bullshit, but I’m in a good mood and still have some coffee left, so I’ll play….)

I recently saw two different successful actor friends pop up on the internet for multiple theatre companies I want to work with. Wanna know what I discovered? They’ve been doing theatre in Chicago for a while. Like, a long while. We’re talking my list of top five favorite Chicago theatre companies when before they had hit double digits in age. Wanna know what I was doing before I was ten years old? Drawing pictures of baseball players. And watching baseball. Really anything that could make me believe that I was going to be a baseball player. 

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Sorry guys. 29 Year Old Tony is not going to be a baseball player. But he pulls off this Red Sox winter hat pretty well, in my opinion…

My friends. It is a waste of time to look outside your own lane. It’s yours. Besides, once I start booking roles with said theatre companies….is it really going to matter that I arrived at the same finish line as them just a couple of decades later? 

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In the meantime? I’m okay with being in the email newsletter for Broken Nose Theatre. They’ve been pretty cool to work with 🙂 

I think not. Who knows – maybe we’ll all do a show together. That’d be awesome. 

Let’s go get ‘em. 

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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 terms. Contact him for a free one-on-one to see if he can help you with your own mindset and happiness in life at tony.rossi@gmail.com

PS – Rumor has it that he loves when you share his content with friends and family.