What You Gain When You Move On
If you have followed me for a while then you may remember an organization I used to run called Actors' Embassy. I was (and still am) very proud of the work I did via the Actors' Embassy blog, website, and events. I know that I helped a lot of people connect, find their footing in this crazy business, and feel supported in their endeavors. I know the Actors' Embassy community made me feel that way.
About four years ago I decided to try and monetize the organization. I had grand plans for all of the ways I wanted to help my fellow actors and, to reach those goals, it would take money. Plus, I was putting an awful lot of time and hard work into it, and it was getting to the point where I could no longer volunteer. I needed to be able to support myself and my family if I was going to spend this much time working on it.
Unfortunately, my efforts to monetize fell apart. Part of the issue was that I was pregnant at the time, and my head was just really not in it. The other part was that I never fully formed my monetization plan. In short, I just wasn't ready to bring it all to fruition. Which was a real shame because it meant I wasn't going to be able to continue my work with Actors' Embassy. I just couldn't volunteer that time and energy anymore.
Years passed, and I would contribute the occasional blog post. It always felt good when I did, but I never got back into the regular-posting-groove. A few more years passed, I moved out of the city unexpectedly, and my whole life changed. My experience was no longer applicable to the focus of the blog.
Recently, I finally decided to bight the bullet and stop paying for the website. It was the right thing to do. I feel so sad that young actors won't have the Actors' Embassy site as a resource anymore, but I just couldn't justify continuing to pay the yearly fee to keep it going.
Taking down the website felt a lot like finally cutting ties with an old flame. For years you sort of stay in each other's lives. You don't really see each other anymore, but you keep up the occasional phone call or coffee date. You want to keep the possibility open because you still think of the potential you once had. But, the truth is, you both know it's over. When you speak, it is clear that you are in different places. It's been over for a long time.
I know many actors who have had this experience with their careers. They are feeling an itch for something new. They are frustrated with the daily grind of auditioning, taking classes, and working a grueling side job. They can no longer wait to see what the future holds. They feel the need to create a new future for themselves.
But that letting go part is really hard. The decision to become an actor is not something most people come to lightly. Most put their heart and soul into that career path, giving up other aspects of their lives to make it work. Moving on often feels like failure. It can be hard to see the benefits of that choice when you are in the middle of making it. It feels like admitting that you just aren't cut out for "the biz." That maybe deciding to go into it in the first place was the wrong decision.
What I've learned from letting go of Actors' Embassy is that I gained so much from having once run the organization. I learned how to facilitate discussions. I learned how to build a network. I became a better writer. I learned that I can bring value to a community and have an impact on the lives of others. These are all skills that I carry with me today. These are skills that now bleed into my career, my parenting, my daily life. And I know the same is true for actors who choose to leave the business behind. Those years you spent pounding the pavement aren't wasted. You learned something. You changed. You grew. Spend some time figuring out how. Spend some time discovering how having once been a performer impacts your life each day now that you are on the other side of it. You will undoubtedly discover you are a better person for it.