I know what you all are thinking. As you read the title of this piece, many of you instantly begin to question if “I really do love theatre”. Or “maybe I don’t love it enough.” “Obviously I don’t love it enough to make a career out of it.”
Let’s make one thing clear: I LOVE THEATRE. Trust me there are times when I question if there is something I could ever love doing that wasn’t theatre and the answer is always no. There is nothing more I want in this world than to be an artist and to share my art with others.
Lately however, I started to feel down. All the stress of classes, work, and doing shows has really weighed down on me. I’ve found myself not enjoying what I am doing. Recently I began directing, which is even harder than acting if I do say so myself. Directing was/is my focus in college. I remember seeing the revival of Promises! Promises! with Kristen Chenoweth (I know, greatest moment of my life) and thinking how much I wanted to bring stories to life.
Anyways, back to what I was saying, I don’t know if it is the fact that I have so much work for my classes and the fact I have to balance that with dedicating myself to a script, or what but I have felt really down about my craft lately. I find myself not wanting to attend my rehearsals, just not wanting to do any of it. I’ve tried to figure out what has changed, and I think I finally did: I have.
The more I laid awake at night trying to figure out what was wrong with me, the more I realized that I had become so involved in the theatrical world that I literally do nothing outside of that. I only am involved in theatre organizations, I am always doing a show, I work in the theatre, I only go see shows when I go out, I only hang out with theatre people, I don’t have any aspect of my life that is separate from theatre.
Now, some are losing it right now because that sounds like the perfect life right?? WRONG. I always dreamed of when I could simply only focus on theatre, I would hear people who work in theatre professionally tell me that I needed to find a hobby or interest outside of theatre to stay sane and thought they had lost it. Surprise! They were right.
During my freshman year I lived in a scholarship house with girls from every major that wasn’t theatre. They didn’t really know anything about theatre, except when I would talk to them about it and what shows they like. This was my escape. I was able to spend my day in the department, doing what I love, but when I came home I wiped that away from me. I separated myself from my work to take a breather and refresh myself.
This year, I have fully submerged myself, and now I feel like I am drowning. You sort of lose a part of you, because you literally become one with theatre. The worst part is it has made me have such negative feelings about something I love with all of my heart, which then hurt even more. Now that I have realized what is wrong, I am going to work to fix it. I will not allow myself to work on anything related to theatre while at home. I check that part of my life at the door. I am also exploring other interests, making friends outside of the department, slowly I will begin to make a change in my life.
It’s the separation that makes you yearn for it even more. For example, everyone has seen a show or two where a married couple ends up working together and spends 24/7 together. This drives them insane. The fact that they have no alone time. That’s what I am going through right now. I made a vow to forever work in theatre, and lately I have felt suffocated by it. I know that getting time away from it is what will help renew my love for it.
The moral of this story is: find other interests to explore. College is literally for exploring interests and discovering yourself (and I guess a degree.) Just because you love something doesn’t mean you need to spend your entire time on it, you lose yourself this way. Be versatile. Enjoy the little things, like joining a book club or finding a job outside of theatre.
Find some way to take a breather so that you do not suffocate. Also, if you are having these issues where you are questioning your dedication like I was just know: just because you feel this way doesn’t mean you don’t love it enough. It means that something is not quite right. You have to find the problem, and fix it.
You have to find the fun.