I feel like my life, as of this moment, is made up of mostly maybes.
Maybe I should be this. Maybe I should do that. Maybe I should start taking Pure Barre, or re-examine my relationship with God. Maybe I should actually buy ridiculous things like purple carrots, and maybe I should actually use them in home-cooked meals that maybe I should be cooking every night instead of frequently pulling up to the Subway sandwich counter, religiously requesting extra pickles.
Maybe I should invest in myself, maybe I should invest in others, maybe I should focus on one thing instead of a million, maybe I shouldn't take The Defining Decade so literally, but it was a fucking good book. Maybe I should work for a brand, maybe I should start another script, maybe I should act once in awhile, because I was always pretty good at that. Maybe I should just do nothing, and see what happens.
Yeah, we all know that last one is no good. I think at 27, I can no longer be open to what the Universe is trying to tell me in terms of my professional path, because quite frankly, what is it saying? Like what, Universe? What do YOU want me to do?
So pretty much, I have to make my own choices here, which lately has been difficult for me. Forget the purple carrots and the Pure Barre. I can deal with all that later, but career? That's a now thing. That's a time-sensitive little bitch.
See I used to be really good at making professional decisions. Ever since I was about eleven, I knew that I wanted to be an actress. So I began studying actresses - Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton - all the goddesses. I applied to colleges with fantastic acting programs, and I got into one such college. I trained for four years, dedicatedly learned monologues that weren't always right for me, boldly shouted RED LEATHER YELLOW LEATHER in voice class, suffered with Shakespeare, moved to Manhattan, and then auditioned like all of the starry-eyed, shiny students with resumes chockfull of white space.
I then decided, after a few Off-Off-Off jobs, that I didn't want to just be an actress. I wanted to write too. Musicals to be exact. I had always loved musicals. So easy decision. I would go to graduate school to learn how to write them. I swiftly applied, was swiftly accepted, and that was that. For two years, I did nothing but write book and lyrics for musicals, and I loved it. I still love it. I wrote a show with one of my now closest friends, and after graduation, this show was performed at various colleges. From there, a next step would appear for the show, and then evaporate a second later. We would gain momentum, then lose it. Gain it, then lose it. A vicious writer's cycle that I am now all too familiar with, and that unfortunately, can inspire a deep sense of uncertainty when feeling vulnerable, or y'know, just tired.
While pursuing my writing, I was also working at a cabaret. A place I decided to work at without any hesitation. It was my first job offer out of graduate school, and so I took it. I stayed with that company for almost three years, and then I decided to leave it. I decided to jump onto a short-term Broadway gig, and then when that ended, and I was facing unemployment and a writing rut...well, that's when I stopped deciding. For almost the first time in my entire life, and apologies for the tiny out of tune violins, I felt paralyzed.
That's because I believe that the decisions I make now, at this professional crossroads, are much more significant than any I've ever made, because of our friend: tick, tick, tick, time. The babies question becomes real. The money question becomes real. The how do I see my life in ten years question becomes real.
I see my husband. I see my pets. My family, friends, a savings account slowly building itself, but my career? I don't know what I see. I know what I'd like to see. Writing taking center stage, forming the bulk of my paycheck, demanding most of my time, but what if that doesn't happen? Despite all of my best efforts, what if it doesn't? Now that question is REALLY real.
That's the frighteningly humble side effect of the gain it, lose it experiences we collect as we age. Once you've encountered professional inconsistency, disappointment, rejection, doubt - you wonder if maybe you need an alternate dream, or several. You wonder if having a Plan B is a good idea. A "just in case" Plan. An "I could do this, and not be miserable" Plan.
So I wondered, and then decided to get such a plan. I recently became a makeup artist. It's something that I've always enjoyed doing, and that for me, inspires creativity, and positivity. It's something that makes me happy, but as happy as writing? I don't know, it's too soon to tell. However, now that I am actually investing in this second interest, I am even more swallowed up by maybes:
Maybe I'm sabotaging my writing by exploring makeup. Maybe this is a distraction from rejection, from success. Maybe I won't be able to do both. Maybe I'm not talented at either. Maybe I really have to choose, so maybe I should just do makeup, or no, I should just write and only write, that's it! No maybe I really can do both, or no, just makeup, maybe that's, no that's wrong, do both, do neither, just write, no, what am I thinking? What am I doing? Just write, just makeup, write, no, no, no, SHUT UP.
My brain, ladies and gentleman.
So yeah, maybe I'm overreacting. That's probably, definitely happening, but I don't think I'm alone. I think this professional identity crisis - this hovering over multiple lanes instead of picking one, this embarrassment of interests, this wanting of so many things, this Dream A, Dream B, this sea of maybes, this how do I choose? How do I focus? How do I make it all work? I think we all suffer from it. We all suffer from needing the Universe to step in and say something, but here's the thing. It usually won't.
I need to stop whining. I need to figure it out on my own. I need to decide, and right now all I can decide is to stop saying maybe. I need to decide to pursue both, because I want to pursue both. I need to decide to make it all work. So that's it. I am deciding that. And if that means I am having a professional identity crisis by having more than one dream, then that's what I've decided to have. At least now when I show up at parties with my purple carrot salad, I can say, "Hi, I'm Kate and I'm having a professional identity crisis. I also hate the word maybe." We'll see how many new friends I make.