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Dear Wendy

Passions VS School and stability

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  • #1097174 Reply

    I need help. All my life I’ve been a creative person and in grade 7 I realized I didn’t want to go to university, I knew I wanted to be an actress. The problem? My parents couldn’t afford acting classes and didn’t take me seriously. A few years later I decided I wanted to become a lawyer since I realized that I’m good at school. I work hard in school and have done well, so I thought I would use this to my advantage since my first choice (acting) didn’t work. The plan was to go to business school for my undergraduate degree and then pursue business law.

    I graduated this year and I’m enrolled in a business program that starts on Tuesday. I have never felt this unprepared and anxious to start school. I don’t want to go to school, the thought of being stuck in a degree that I no longer wants haunts me. I’ve had so many breakdowns over this, I wish I had taken a year off to start with but since my school never discussed the option, I ignored it. Now, I’m realizing I would prefer a year off and I don’t know if I should try to defer my offer for next year, drop out, or just go through with it. I value education as a first generation student who’s parents never had the chance to go to school, but I also value my desires.

    Note: My mom fully supports me no matter what, my dad on the other hand will probably be upset that I’m throwing away a chance at education.

    The problems
    – I applied for financial assistance and they’re going to give me the money in a week, I need to let them know about what I wanna do before they try to throw me into debt.
    – If I take a year off it’s possible that my financial assistance will put me on probation, it won’t affect me unless I go to school next year (drop out- won’t affect, defer- maybe)
    – If I try to defer, my financial assistance will be received and I think the only thing I have to do is return it. But the problem is that my school has the right to deny me a deferral, so I am not guaranteed time off. I could be stuck at school anyway.
    – If I drop out, it’ll solve all my financial problems and it’ll make it easier. The problem is that I will have to reapply to my program if I decide I want to go back and that process is complicated.

    The options (please note that I’ve submitted for some talent agents and I will continue to do so. I haven’t heard back yet but if I do, I’ll take their contract in a heartbeat)

    – Go to school and try to manage both instead of fully devoting myself to one. If I continue school I will not have time to work a job and pay for acting classes, I will only be able to take small roles and hope that’s enough to build my resume.

    – Defer my offer and hope that I can make enough progress in this year to either drop out completely. If I take a full year off I will work a job and possibly pay for classes or I will take some small roles in student films and try to build my resume. Of course if I hear back from one of the agents I’d take their contract and just jump into that.

    – Or drop out and do the same as this option^ except there’s no time limit.

    The thing is, I can try to do both school and acting but if I am ever presented with a choice between the two, I’ll go with acting. Meaning if I get a big job two years down the line, I’ll be halfway done my degree but I would still jump for the acting opportunity. I don’t want to waste my time and make myself anxious and stressed over school if I don’t need or want it, but then again I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t know when I will be given a breakthrough.

    I love business and I think law is so interesting, but I can’t imagine myself working in a cubicle for the next sixty years or my life, I think I’d go crazy after two years. I know acting is my passion. I’m aware that acting is not just sunshine and rainbows, I know it’s not the most stable job, I know there’s annoying people in the industry, but it’s really the only place I see myself having fun while working.

    I have also realized that I don’t know myself, I’ve only ever identified as a student, my whole life has been about school. I’ve never had the chance to soul search or learn anything about myself. I want some time to enjoy life without constantly doing school.

    PLEASE help me out, give any insight you can, I really need help and my mind has been a mess recently. I can’t seem to figure out what to do.

    Thank you to anyone who leaves me any insight and thank you to anyone who read this long story. I appreciate it.

    #1097177 Reply

    Wait, what? You’ve never acted OR gone to school, but you know you’re good at school and have financial aid. GO to school.

    First of all, you haven’t even tried it yet. You might love it. Or you might take an elective class that you love, and decide to pursue that.

    Going to college does not have to equal working in a cubicle for 60 years. Getting an education is going to benefit you in so, so many ways that you don’t understand. It’s going to lead to things you can’t imagine.

    Whereas you have NO idea if you can act or if it would lead anywhere, and most actors don’t support themselves just through acting.

    Honestly it would be a huge mistake to not go ahead with this year of school. You need to complete at least one semester before deciding what to do next. Do not throw this away.

    #1097179 Reply

    And I don’t know if the school you’re going to has a drama program, but if it doesn’t, you might think about transferring to a school (next year) that does. You can be a business major and still take other classes. I took a lot of art history just because I found it interesting. There might also be a drama *club* with other actors you could hang out with.

    PS Natalie Portman went to Harvard. A lot of actors have prestigious degrees.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Kate.
    #1097181 Reply

    I work a creative industries & a lot of ppl in it need a normal job/qualifications to support them. It’s not an industry that just supports you financially – there is a lot of downtime in between jobs – and I mean years sometimes. And at college, there is a lot of societies you can join to figure out the where you belong on the creative side. The film club or drama club etc. Or you can take classes in acting etc on the side, but sorry it’s big mistake to try to jump into acting without having job that pays better than waiting tables. Also actors/creatives who have worked/studied outside the biz can bring a wealth of experience to their roles.

    #1097182 Reply

    Edit: I think I put way too much emphasis on dropping out, my bad. I guess what I’m really wondering is if I should take a gap year to work and pay for acting classes (and soul search, as mentioned I don’t even know who I am apart from school), or If I should go to school and do small roles.
    Also thank you all so much for your advice, it’s helping me clear my mind and I really appreciate you guys.

    #1097184 Reply

    No, don’t take a gap year. Go now.

    #1097185 Reply

    One of our more successful actors here in Aus (has been in big Hollywood films with legit stars) is currently working as a builders labourer. He got papped the other day heading to a site and essentially admitted the roles had dried up. It’s sad he hasn’t had work in ages but it’s also sad he didn’t have anything to fall back on so he could avoid hard manual labour at 50 odd years old.

    Acting may or may not be there in your future, you have no idea how it might go. Chasing the education for steady employment in the meantime isn’t a drag, it’s a gift you can give yourself for the future. If all goes well you won’t necessarily need to use it but if you do you’ll be thankful it’s there.

    #1097187 Reply

    THANK YOU GUYS! I feel a lot better about my decision to go to school right away instead of taking a gap year. I think I knew that pursuing school is a good and safe option, but I was overthinking it and got caught up in the moment. I really needed to hear an opinion from someone else and get a slap of reality. So, thank you all for giving me that push! Have a lovely day everyone.

    #1097195 Reply
    Guy Friday

    Also, Su, you should realize that what you’re feeling is 100% normal and not a bad sign at all! It’s totally OK to freak out a bit at a huge life landmark and want to stop and take stock of the direction you’re heading. But, honestly, as everyone else has said, nothing is being foreclosed at the moment, and while you may have to develop the skills to budget your time and balance both it isn’t insurmountable.

    Also, just so you know: I came to undergrad planning on going to law school and studying political science, and then because my undergrad had general credit requirements for graduation (i.e., I had to take X number of TOTAL classes outside of my major), I got to double-major in theater, performed both in extracurricular theater groups and in performances for the Fine Arts school, graduated as normal, went to law school as normal, and then have been practicing for over a decade. I don’t act as much anymore, but as a litigator I’ll tell you that the stuff I learned in theater has DEFINITELY helped me in a courtroom 🙂

    #1097197 Reply

    Yeah, I was thinking too that acting skills, improv skills, would absolutely help you in business or law, as a lot of it is performance. And having experience at work and school could help you in acting, like someone else said.

    I’m another one who went into school thinking I’d do one thing, and then discovered something else that was a great use of my skills and that also makes money. You have to make money to be financially independent. You don’t know yet if you can make any money at all in acting, let alone enough to be independent, but you’re almost certain to be able to do that with a degree.

    #1097209 Reply

    So, I do think you should go to college and agree that it will create opportunities for you that you’ll wish you had down the road if you opt out. I also think you can do plenty of soul searching while you’re enrolled in school. Take a variety of classes, not just the ones you think sound good. Join student organizations and clubs. You may even find that there are ways to make a decent living by combining your passion with something practical. One of my college friends, for example, was passionate about orchestra. Her majors were English and Music with a French minor. She played in a college orchestral group for fun and interned at our musical society, where she was eventually hired full-time after graduation. One summer she worked for some philharmonic in France as an intern — how cool is that!? She’s now the assistant director of operations for a performing arts center.

    All that said, and while I think whatever you do should include a plan to continue your education, I think a gap year is fine or even a good idea for some people. College is really expensive and I’ve had some friends take on way more debt than they needed to because they were all over the place. One was literally an undergrad student for NINE years because she kept changing majors. (I couldn’t quite follow what was written here about the financial aid and deferral vs. dropping out, but don’t go into debt to NOT be in school.)

    #1097236 Reply

    Go to school. I don’t know where you live but across a lot of countries are community theaters. People who are accountants, teachers and students by day are dancing and singing across the stage at night.

    What I’m saying is, you don’t have to be a professional actor to act. You can do it for fun, as an outlet, instead of throwing all of your eggs into a single basket.

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