Actors are notorious for not taking vacations. We’re always so busy chasing the next audition, waiting for the phone to ring or the email to buzz, letting us know we’ve been called in. We put our lives on hold because we want to believe that our big break is just around the corner.
The trouble is, careers are not built on one big break. Any actor who is dubbed an overnight sensation has likely worked tirelessly for years behind the scenes, meeting agents and casting directors, auditioning without winning the part, playing small supporting roles and being overlooked. But it’s the fact that they keep showing up, keep consistently nailing the work, keep proving how professional and committed they are that allows for the breakthrough.
Our careers are not as random as we think. But it’s so hard to see what efforts lead to what payoffs, that we become ever vigilant of what more we could possibly do. We don’t always see the correlation between our consistent hard work and our opportunities: that audition from 2 years ago that you didn’t get turns into an offer for a job (seemingly) out of the blue; those mailings that you sent every month to that agent turns into an offer to freelance. We put so much out there, and we have no way of knowing when the work will pay off. It makes us anxious. It makes us superstitious. It makes us afraid to not be on call 24/7.
But if we never take the time to live our lives, to unwind and to recharge, how can we possibly sustain any of this? The paradox is that it’s the time taken off, exploring the world, getting to know our friends and family better, discovering how others live their lives… that makes us vitally interesting and engaging in our work. So maybe start small: a long weekend away; or a day off once a week. But challenge yourself to let go of the grind and fly a bit. You’ll be amazed at the energy you come back with.