‘Acting and… Time Out’ – Sunday 27th May, 2018
I don’t know about any of you, but being self-employed as an actor, children’s entertainer and sometimes event manager I find it very hard to switch off. I always have done – and I find it very hard to give myself permission to take any time off. I rarely used to get any weekends off as I was always out delivering kids parties and, unlike the conventional 9-5ers, never then managed 2 days off a week to relax and enjoy life. I always seem to be planning ahead or chasing the next work opportunity in fear that I may be missing out. I find myself religiously refreshing my emails, both my Spotlight and Casting Call Pro pages too so that I can dive on any castings to be the first to apply/submit my details for the job in the hope that my cover letter will actually be read and I may have a shot at an audition or self-tape. All I end up feeling though is anxious and stressed – and, 25% of the time (I did the math) my submission is not even viewed by the employer. What an utter waste of time and energy. Why do I do it to myself?!
Today was no exception. It is the night before my 36th birthday and I’ve found myself all day adding things to my to-do list, fitting in as much ‘work’ as possible so that I can give myself permission to have my birthday off tomorrow. I’ve managed to update my event CV – which took an absolute age because it takes me ages to word everything and even longer to reformat it within an inch of its life because I’m OCD with documents. But afterwards, it did look pretty and the satisfaction of deleting it off my electronic to-do list was great. Then, next task – email new updated CV to 3 employers to remind them, ‘Hello, remember me? I’m that poor actor who is fab at pretending to enjoy working mundane events, please give me a job!’ Tick! Then I booked some train tickets for a happy occasion in June. Tick. Bank balance. Untick! Checked emails and castings. Tick. Submitted quotations to 2 potential clients for children’s parties in Devon. Tick. Emailed a previous employer rambling on apologising for not picking up his calls as I’ve been attempting to take time out this week and leave my phone alone. Embarrassing tick! Next task: gather together items to top-up entertainer’s kit for imminent Star Wars parties in June. Tick! Then… I panicked. What else is there to do?! Oh, right. Grab that script you want to self-tape – action it and highlight it. Then, start learning it. Tick! Finally, (as if I haven’t done enough already) why don’t you write a blog entry – you haven’t done one of those for a few weeks. This brings me to 23:35. It is nearly my birthday. Have I done enough today to warrant allowing myself the time off to celebrate tomorrow. Maybe.
But this is how every day goes for me. Riding a wave of a to-do list in order to validate my working existence so that even though I have no acting work at the moment, very few parties in the diary and nothing exciting in terms of event work – I am trying. I am doing something. I am working, not idle. I am still focused and determined.
My last task of today (yes, I even turn this into a to-do list task) is to read some of my book. I’m reading Dan Brown’s, ‘Origin’ and I’m loving it. Reading and films on Amazon Prime are saving me at the moment. Here I am actually able to switch off and escape the dreaded to-do list and self-doubt. I actually have time to myself – or time away from my thoughts to be truthful.
This is progress too. I did get offered an event job starting today until next Sunday but I turned it down. It just wasn’t worth my while. The power of saying, ‘No!’ Liberating. I actually think having the next week off until 4th June will be a great experiment for me. Can I cope doing nothing? Will my fingers twitch to check my phone for emails. Will I miss the role of a lifetime not checking castings every hour. Probably (chuckles). But I do work hard and I do deserve some time off. Even if I do need the money. I’m choosing me. At almost 36 I’m finally starting to choose me and not my working life. I will no longer be defined by it. I am an actor, yes, but first and foremost I am a person – and this person needs some birthday cake! and presents. Don’t forget the presents.
Here’s to the other side of the 30’s! Wish me luck.
Happiness to all of you.