Often times we are fooled by the forced perception of the lives of others. With a swipe, a double tap, a “like”, we encourage this behaviour. “You are doing so well!” “I wish I could do that!” “I am living vicariously through you!”
These are all wonderful compliments. The accomplishments of those we praise are in flux, so we want to celebrate them as they come up! We have done this since elementary school- the higher the grade, the more likely it will go on the fridge.
We encourage behaviour we see that we deem fit for accolades. It is all subjective, though we tend to group behind certain successes. We love a good grade, a new job, a promotion, a wonderful trip- tangible things that we can quantify with an unwritten algorithm engrained to us to fit into this system of “success”.
But for every success, there is sacrifice.
Like everything in life, things are give and take. We can never have it all- no matter what a magazine article says or what their Instagram page portrays.
We love to watch a movie with our favourite star, go see our favourite artist in concert, or see a musical written by a genius. Each person we idolize struggled at one time or another and made sacrifices to be where they are.
Studying the arts is met with the mocking “can I have fries with that?”, having to take a sick day to hit an audition (or 4), getting asked what you really do for a living. The Arts are not in the tiers of success until you hit a level of notoriety- but nobody can just rock up to a Broadway audition with no formal training, audition or performing experience and land a leading role. They had to work their way up. They had to miss work, weddings, give up relationships, move away from home, busk on the streets getting looked down to by passers-by, work for “exposure”, get told they weren’t good enough over and over and over again… but they are doing what they love. The sacrifices they make, the mockery and doubt they endured, and the constant weight of “success” weighing on them paid off. It was worth it.
I do what I love doing. I work in entertainment. I, since college, have been lucky to only have to hold one “Joe-job” (a job that pays the bills between doing what you want to do in your desired field- often in entertainment this is a Barista at Starbucks, in my case it was retail).
I work backstage and get to work with some of the world’s top athletes and performers. I made it in my industry, which is not only a matter of luck, but a matter of sacrifice.
I travel a LOT. I have to for work. I have been in a long-distance relationship with my partner for 3.5 years, I have been away from family and friends, and get few days off. I also am a contract worker. I don’t always know if there is something at the other end of this one, how long I need to make these paychecks last, what my next move will be.
A lot of people in my life don’t understand what I have had to give up to live such an “adventurous” life. I went through many conversations with friends and family regarding my path. What they thought was right for me. Questioning my choices and strategy to get to where I want to be. Ultimately, I knew what was best for me, I made enough sacrifices (as unhealthy to my mental health as sometimes they were) for long enough for it to finally slot into place.
I think people don’t follow their dreams because of the risk:reward ratio. It is difficult to not listen to the doubts of those around you constantly telling you to get into the real world and get a real job. This is probably where a lot of people drop off. There is also the willingness to put yourself out there and be rejected- to fail in whatever capacity. Money, job security, time, wanting to settle down, wanting to be close to home… A lot of people are not willing or able to make enough sacrifices for long enough to get to where they want to be.
It is hard. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, it is hard to keep sacrificing things to live your dreams. Until you “succeed” according to the world around you, it is hard to see what is paying off, what you are building towards. Waiting and waiting for your moment that, in reality, may never actually come. The gamble is not worth it for some.
But here is a lot of good with what comes with your dreams: fulfillment, happiness, pride… Once you hit the level of society-defined success then you get all of the support and encouragement from them as well. I have seen and done some pretty incredible things. I have met countless people who have changed me for the better. I have struggled and sacrificed enough to know my true priorities. I have been able to have the time to truly meet myself- something many people avoid.
As written in my previous post I have recently landed my dream job. Today I landed another incredible opportunity- more money, higher ranked position, great company, in the discipline I have worked hard to grow into. But it isn’t the dream.
Sometimes sacrifice means looking at the status quo- the unwritten algorithm for a successful life- and deciding not to follow it. Deciding to go against the current, through the outward doubts and disapprovals of others and doing what is right for you.
Don’t get me wrong, both positions are incredible for what I do and where I am at, especially so early in my career. But “Assistant Head of Automation” sounds and looks a lot better than “Props Technician”. Looking at both and gauging what is important- you made it. Now what?
I decided to follow my dream. To do what I have always wanted to do- the thing that made me go to school for it in the first place. Props.
Sure, it isn’t management (yet). There is no fancy title to drop in a reunion or when you bump into your ex while visiting your home town over the holidays.
But I have pride, happiness, fulfillment, passion, and ultimately, a love for what I do.
I don’t care if the algorithm tells me I’m wrong because I know this is right- I can feel it.
“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” -Jim Carrey