“So, you want to be an actor? Do you want to be in EastEnders then?”
Those sentences sound all too familiar for my liking. “No” I would reply with a face like a slapped backside, and more often than not, these little exchanges would be followed up with a tedious car journey home where I would proceed to moan to my mother about the usual teenage bollocks. “Why doesn’t anyone understand me? Why can’t they see that I’m an artist?”
The truth is I am 23 years of age now having finished my performance degree this year, and I would snap up a job at EastEnders any day of the week. Not because I have suddenly become a frail old soul who likes nothing more than to catch up on all the latest soaps, wearing a pair of my favourite slippers and a nice warm mug of Horlicks, but simply because it would be a much more appealing option than working at Gregg’s.
Now I’m not one for snobbery, having good old fashioned Northern parents left no room for that in our house, but I am a creative soul and I always have been. Despite this, I’ve never understood snootiness when it came to people’s jobs. I feel that in this country we have a terribly bad habit of demanding services and then at the same time we degrade the people that provide them for us.
However, I am a firm believer of doing all that one can in order to remain as happy as possible, and such jobs are just not for me.
I was a late comer to the world of acting and only began studying Drama at college. I had performed before but only at karaoke singing R Kelly’s Ignition and performing Dreams by Gabrielle (complete with eyepatch) at my school talent show. Whether we can class that as a “performance” is still up for debate according to my sister.
Although I am an introvert, once I got a taste for being on stage I was completely sold. I wanted more and was always looking for my next fix. This then led to me applying for my Drama degree and here we are.
The thing is, it isn’t that simple. I grew up a lot between the ages of 18 and 20, and mid way into my degree I began to question whether or not I really wanted to be the next Bradley Cooper. (I’ve never wanted to be him but it’s been a long day and he’s the first person that sprung to mind.)
This isn’t to say that I no longer want to act. Oh god no. I just believe that as adults, we limit ourselves to one career path and can I just say? It’s ok to change your direction. Since when has undertaking a new skill been something to be frowned upon? Please take this as reassurance that your are doing great and anyone who says otherwise needs to naff off.
I spent the entire duration of my third year in a grand state of panic regarding my minds sudden change of direction. Although, this only came as a shock to me. I write the majority of the material that I perform and my friends and family are constantly insisting that this is where my talents lie.
A large amount of my time, too much of my time in fact, was spent trying to convince them otherwise. This was because I was in a constant state of denial. Why? I hear you ask. Well, it was most probably because I was a self obsessed young adult who loved nothing more than to be on stage, “prancing about” as my father calls it.
Anyway, my third year of university finished in the bat of an eyelid and here I am. More content than ever and writing no less.
Since leaving education, we are fast approaching my fourth month of unemployment, and I suppose the purpose of writing this is to share the two main things I have learnt so far. So here we go:
Number one. You don’t know unemployment until you have received a rejection letter from a job that you didn’t even want.
Number two. You must put an extremely great emphasis on trying to see the beauty in life. Now without meaning to sound like one of those irritating, preachy women who try and get you to skip through corn fields with a daisy chain on each limb whilst grasping a flask of hibiscus tea, seeing the beauty in life is paramount when it comes to keeping yourself sane.
Once I wholeheartedly accepted that I would never get the same moment twice, I felt as if I was given a whole new lease of life.
I have worked since the age of sixteen and this is my first experience of being unemployed. I am incredibly lucky In that I had some money stored away which has allowed me to stay as far away from benefits as possible. However my addiction to COS has left my bank account in a state of depression, but luckily not me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am at a stage where I am itching to get back to work, but if it wasn’t for unemployment, I would have never picked up my pen to start writing again. I would never have spent a month living with my dad, sweating it out at the gym for numerous hours (I do have to say, Dads make the best gym buddies), and I would never have been able to spend so much time with my beautiful mother. Today we went to feed some donkeys and It was literally the best day I’ve had in ages (I don’t know what that says about me)
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, please have a plan B. Acting is great and all that but the likelihood is that your jazz hands will be seeing more action in the job centre than they do in the west end, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.