I have decided that whatever I’m thinking I’m going to share on this blog so today I would like to share that I further indulged my favourite topic of thought. I will need to explain it in full and in context so you understand what I am talking about.
YouTube are currently uploading old episodes of Waterloo Road, a drama set in a Rochdale school. The programme aired between 2005 and 2015. Due to it being a school drama it featured many young actors getting their first break in the industry and I’m sure that each and every one of them felt that they had achieved something really great by securing at part on the show.
I am fascinated by the acting industry. It taps into many of the things that I think would be fun to add to my own life, things like having a lot of variety that keeps my brain interested, being on television as I’ve always quite fancied being famous and, despite this being a perception, the chance to live with real purpose and meaning and to be part of something. In watching the productions many years later, I can also see vividly the outcomes of all of this work and then contrast the fact that everyone involved was fully in the moment but time has forced them to move on to other things. It brings home to me how fast things change.
I suppose what fascinates me the most is the fact that a lot of what I’ve just said can easily be contradicted when I assess my own life. I have always worried about whether I’m doing enough things purposefully because of a fundamental miss-presumption I made in my youth. My family was always focused on me getting to university. Looking back, I was the first member of my close family to go to university and therefore it is a reasonable presumption that my parents thought that if I did well in the education system doors would automatically open for me. This was only true to a point.
For anyone who’s been through the education system, particularly post-2000, you will know that having a degree does not necessarily open doors that it may have opened prior to 2000. I worked in many different jobs and I have been quite lucky that since the year 2005 I have been largely happy doing the work that I’ve done. But make no mistake, I would much prefer not to have to work and to be able to pick and choose what I do with my time. However, this is a double-edged sword. What I found is that with a little bit of free time, I end up doing very little. I find most of my time is taken up looking for things to do and, in the end, I don’t do much and feel unfulfilled.
This is why the acting industry looks so appealing. I find it very interesting to think about how actors are constantly searching for parts, are constantly moving around the country rehearsing, auditioning and filming and I contrast my own experience of life with wondering what it’s really like to be a jobbing actor, going from part to part with all of the uncertainty that that entails and it all seems far more exciting than my own repetitive existence.
But is this really how it is? I have read about many actors really struggling with the reality of the industry. Some of them work in quite menial jobs to make ends meet whilst they search for their next big role. Many are in debt and many have depression. When a role is broadcast on television we as viewers are totally in that moment whereas the actors themselves have long since recorded the part and moved on to search for and act out new projects. The fluidity of the industry both scares me and excites me.
For the last three months I have been very worried about the lack of progress in my own life. I feel like I just exist and when I contrast my life to the apparent excitement of, for example the acting industry, I feel like there should be more to life than what I experience. But the truly fascinating thing is that I would imagine that at least some of the actors would relate more to the struggles that I have rather than my utopian view of their life. I never consider that they may sit at home on a Sunday night wondering what to do with themselves and have a fairly empty diary that week to look forward to. I never consider that they also may wish to find steady reliable income instead of the existence of being a commodity in productions and sit waiting for the phone to ring to quash their worry.
Let’s go even deeper. I invite you to cast your mind back to 2010. You can probably remember the routine that you had, the people that you saw regularly and the aspect of your life that you identified most with that period of time. Then time carried on. Things changed. They always do yet we get very preoccupied with what we are doing on a day-to-day basis. I am currently a counsellor that is serving an electoral term of four years that expires in 2021. I don’t really look beyond this and even in 2019 it seems quite far away. So, you can see that I am contradicting my own view is that I’ve expressed in this article because if I apply the same approach to the acting industry, actors too may think ‘I have a two-year contract for this part so everything is fine.’
Looking at my own life again I would love to have what I consider these vibrant experiences one after the other. It reminds me that in the ever-changing world that we live in we must constantly be on the ball in terms of seeking out and optimising our experience of life. If we don’t, it’s very easy to do what I’ve done and fall off the radar. Time is merciless in how it ticks on and on.
I challenge myself every day to enjoy life as much as I can and I am always thinking very carefully about what I want to do. I’m considering trying to get back into the extra work that I dabbled in circa 2011 because I am always aware of the issues discussed in this article when I’m around this ever changing fast-paced industry. I invite you to consider these issues and think about them and strive to not to live by default. Identify, clarify and pursue your goals without fear or reprisal.
Otherwise we flatline and we know what happens when things flatline.