Back home in Australia I have a wonderful friend named Sarah. Sarah and I grew up in neighboring small towns outside of Sydney and we made each other laugh a lot. Sarah was (and still is) one of those girls who always seemed to have her shit together. I could go on about how great she is for the entire length of this blog post, but I’ll cut to the chase and just let you know what’s important – Sarah is an awesome person.
So, as you can imagine, the fact that I’ve missed every important moment in her life because I was pursuing a career in the arts, has made me feel very disappointed and guilty over the years.
Most of you working in this field have probably been in similar situations at times with your own friends and family – Because our industry revolves around unpredictable schedules! Things can change at a moment’s notice. Opportunities are often scarce, which means you must grab them when they come your way. This makes it incredibly hard to plan anything in advance. No one knows this better than my friend Sarah.
When Sarah announced that she was getting married, our group of friends started making plans for her bachelorette party. She was the first one of our friends to get married and it was going to be epic. But, as the date rolled closer, I booked a gig in a touring theatre show and realized I was going to be out of town the exact date the party was scheduled to happen. Yes, I tried to make up for it when I got back in town by organizing a second bachelorette party (that included strip clubs and custom made T-shirts for our entire group) But disappointment reared its ugly head again when I found out the next out of town gig I booked fell exactly on her wedding day.
Upset as I was, I knew I had to skip the wedding. If I went, it would mean turning down a three month gig, and I was a struggling actor trying to get my footing in a cutthroat industry, and in desperate need of a decent paycheck
I remember the night of her wedding I was sitting in my cheap hotel room in the middle of some random town that my show was touring and looking at pics of the wedding on Facebook. Sarah looked gorgeous and everyone was having so much fun, and I had missed it all.
A year later, when I moved to the LA to pursue a career in the film industry Sarah announced more exciting news; She was pregnant. I so badly wanted to fly home to meet the new addition to her family, but as always, money was tight and tickets for a roundtrip to Australia were not within my budget. Her son was almost a year old by the time I finally got to meet him.
Over the years, pursuing this crazy career has caused me to be somewhat of a “flake” when it comes to other areas of my life. I’ve been absent from countless family and friends special celebrations and milestones. I’ve had to cancel vacations, and pull out of many day jobs last minute when an industry related gig came up. And, I still always feel guilty.
The thing is, if you’re going to commit to pursuing a career in the weird and unpredictable entertainment industry, this is just going to be part of life. The industry moves fast, without any warning, and often times accepting a great opportunity for yourself means letting someone else in your life down.
But here’s what I’ve come to learn and what I try to remind myself when I’m stuck in these situations; The people who love you and support you chasing your crazy dreams will never exploit those feelings of guilt. Whenever I would tell my friend Sarah that I had to miss yet another important moment in her life because I’d booked a gig, she would always say the exact same thing; “I’m so proud of you!”.
So try to celebrate the wins and shake off the guilt. It can be hard, especially for women, but the important thing to remember is that the people who really matter, the people who love you, will understand and forgive you.