What does life look like post graduation from graduate school? I am about to find out!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"There's No Business Like Show Business!!". . . or is there??

When you lose your dream, you die.
Dreams change; friends are forever.
So, during my time in Chicago, I have had a lot of time for reflection. Lately I've even started doing some vocation discernment and writing in my journal about where I think God is leading me and what I am learning about myself this year. I just have to say that the answers I have been coming up with have been surprising and not necessarily the answers I was looking for. However, having had a few days to digest and process everything, I really feel like the answers I've come up with really are the answers that God wanted me to come up with and I've made a sort of peace with the decisions.
Let me explain by giving you some background here. Ever since I was a little kid, there has been exactly one dream that I have had and wanted to accomplish: becoming famous. That has literally been the desire that has driven my entire life and has been responsible for a lot of the decisions that I have made over the last several years. I started doing theatre 12 years ago because I believed that would be the best route to accomplishing that goal. I convinced myself that theatre would be the only path that would bring me any happiness. I've been telling people for years that my two major life goals are to win an Oscar and star on Broadway.
I've realized, though, that therein lies the problem. I have been focusing too much on performing for the glory and the accolades. That's not really what it is supposed to be about. Performing is supposed to be about the thrill and the adventure of playing a part and getting invested in a character and making new friends and such. For me, though, it has never been about that. It has always been about getting the glory and the accolades and being the center of attention. I have been doing it for all the wrong reasons and I think that explains why I haven't had the greatest success with it. I've done over 20 shows and yet I've had mostly minor roles or backstage roles in most of them. I'm realizing now that that is perhaps God's way of saying that I am just not meant to make a career of it. I haven't been doing it for the right reasons and yet when I think about trying to do it for the right reasons, I find that my enthusiasm for doing it at all is muted at best.
I'm just tired of the "drama" in drama. The long nights, the multiple rehearsals, the immaturity of so many out there, the constantly having to do the same thing over and over. It just wears me down and yet I kept at it because I was determined to make something of myself and become a big star in the industry. I just wanted the Oscar and that has been why I have been willing to subject myself to all the tedium and drama that comes with doing theatre. I really hate doing the same thing over and over. I used to tell people that I hated rehearsing but loved performing!! I hate auditioning because I make terrible first impressions and lack the self-confidence in myself and my abilities that seems to be a need in order to make it in the business. I convinced myself that it would all be worth it someday when I was onstage giving my Oscar acceptance speech which I had had written since I was 5 years old.
A big part of the reason why I wanted to serve in Chicago was because it would be a great place for an aspiring actor to start out his career that was less cutthroat than New York City. However, I'm realizing that God sent me to Chicago to help me realize that there is something better out there waiting for me. Doing theatre helped me develop gifts that I can take with me into other careers: public speaking, self-confidence, projecting to a crowd and many others. These are skills that I have developed thanks to my many years of theatre and they are skills that I can take with me into any other vocation of mine and God's choosing. They're also skills that a lot of people out there don't possess and would love to have.
The above quotes represent two different dichotomies when it comes to dreams. The whole point of this post is simply to say that I have realized that maybe my dreams need to change (if they ever really were my dreams). I simply don't have the passion or the talent for the theatre biz anymore. I was doing it for purely selfish rather than selfless reasons and let my own selfish pursuit of glory and accolades take precedence over just having fun and enjoying myself. I wasn't using my talent for the right reasons but also can't see myself wanting to do it for the right reasons. I'm not saying I won't ever do another show again just that I don't think that it is meant to be my career ambition anymore. I'm glad I realized this now even if it does mean that I have to now figure out who God is wanting me to be (I've got some ideas in that regard but don't want to say anything on here until it feels more firmed up). Sometimes God has a funny way of getting his message to us. Before I left to come to Chicago, I was convinced that once I was done, I was going to settle down in Chicago and become a professional actor. Now, here I am two months into my YAV year thinking seriously about leaving that dream behind, perhaps permanently. I haven't let my dream die but simply realized that perhaps that never really was my dream at all.
It's scary to think that I could potentially be giving up the stage and that whole business permanently. It's really all I have been heavily involved in over the last twelve years. Yet, I have come to realize that I started doing it simply for the attention and not because it was something I wanted to do. Now, I am forced to re-evaluate everything I know and hope that those of you out there reading this will support me as I make this quite momentous decision. I'm almost afraid to publish this and even put the idea out there that I might be "retiring" from the stage, again. I know that means people will be holding me accountable and that I have to live up to what I promise. This doesn't mean that I can't still be involved in the business, just from an outsider's perspective. I will still be a movie buff and will still always want to go to a theatrical event of any kind but won't be participating. Last time I "retired" from the stage, it lasted three years so who knows how long this one will last. I think theatre will always be a part of me and I am very grateful to it and the friends I have made through it. It helped get me through some really rough patches in my life and I am glad that it helped me develop some useful life skills. However, it's time for me to move on and work at becoming a new person. What that means, yet, I don't know. For now, let's just say I am a work in progress!!


  1. You write well, Tad. Maybe you need to consider a career in some form of writing.
    Jon Wetterholm

  2. I am so glad you are realizing that the arts are a great avocation and can always bring joy and pleasure into your life and enhance you as a person, but few people make a living at it, at least on the performance side. This is coming from your mother who majored in Theatre Arts and spent part of her college and young adult years singing and playing in clubs for tips! I will always love my music and going to the theater, but my real calling is helping people, whether children people as I did in teaching, or adult people as I am doing now! Welcome to the real world, Son, I am behind you with wherever you and God take your life!

  3. Tad,

    I'm praying for you and your life here in Hollywood. You get 'em everytime I pull that silly bookmark out of my Bible.

  4. Been giving it some thought. If you become a screenwriter, you could still have a shot at an Oscar.

    Jon Wetterholm

  5. The best advice I have is common knowledge (but I'm a sucker for the popular stuff anyway)

    "Even though I walk through the darkest valley,*
    I fear no evil;
    for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me. "
    Psalm 23:4

    God has plan, and we're lucky if we can figure out step one BEFORE it happens... much less afterward. Perhaps you will be famous, but on a stage of a different sort? Who can really say? If its any comfort, I'm also trying to discern what I want to do, or what is planned for me.

    While it may be scary, embrace the fact that you are working on yourself. There's no challenge to being complete (and I would argue that no one is ever "complete." If we believe we're complete then we stop pushing ourselves to do better.

    Peace be with you!