It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had a guest post on follow my bliss. There’s no real reason for that. But as soon as I heard about this young lady’s story, I had to have her write about her experience so that you all could learn about what she’s doing with her life.
The short of it is, D., as we’ll call her (she’s smartly asked to remain anonymous for now – her desk job stay doesn’t end until the spring and she doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers…), found herself unsatisfied with her job, her daily routine, and the way it all made her feel. And she decided to do something about it.
I am inspired and moved by what she’s decided to do with her life instead, and I’m honored to share with you this beautiful piece she’s written about her situation.
I’m leaning over my miniature bathroom sink staring straight into my puffy, bloodshot, sleep deprived eyes. For the 4th, or is it 8th night, in a row I am keeping my bathroom mirror company as I look at my reflection and say “ Something has got to change.”
I came to NYC for college 9 years ago. I came to be an actor. I remember sitting in the backseat of the rented van my parents were driving- we were headed down the BQE and suddenly, like a mirage, New York City rose up in all its overpopulated glory. It was love at first sight.
I spent my college (and some of my post college) years doing the usual route for those who are actors in NYC. Juggling so many part- time, off hours, menial paying jobs that I barely had the time or the finances to do what it was I was here to do. To paraphrase a friend of mine; I realized I didn’t love acting so deeply and blindly that I could put up with all the other jobs I had to do to keep this life. At that point I decided it was time for me to “sell out” aka make a living wage.
I began the song and dance of interviews having only a resume of long term temp jobs (all signs of bartending erased) and a degree in theatre. I’ve never worked so hard at selling myself in my life. Not even at open call casting calls for Broadway shows. I’ve always thought of myself as a hard worker and intelligent. I worked hard to try and follow my dream. It was difficult and hurtful to realize that having this dream, something I was proud of having, made me foreign and slightly suspect in the black and white strict lines of Corporate America.
I eventually got a job at a will remain nameless firm. For the first few months I loved it. A steady pay check (no whipping out the calculator to figure out how much more I had to make in how many days to afford rent), health insurance (!), and a steady dependable routine. Then reality set in. Reality as in a black hole of boredom. As in I spent 50+ hours of my life Monday – Friday WAITING until the day ended and I could get out. Everything I have that is a strength was not utilized or challenged. My personality was against the grain of the norm. I began to feel removed from who I was and what I was good at. I was measuring my life to the tick of a clock. Or measuring it to the amount in the bank. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I started to find myself anxious and trapped. I’d unconsciously clench the subway pole as I sat on the train to work. Unlike my previous jobs, I loved the life this job afforded me in the sense I could live alone, I could take trips, and I could go to the doctor. I couldn’t go back to hand to mouth but I couldn’t stay in this place. I was spinning.
So I began a big ol’ think and a chat with God, family and friends. I began eyeballing the rest of my life; what I could give to my life and what I want to do with it. I was praying and debating about either going back to school to get a masters in Theatre Ed (summers off!) but that required two more years of corporate America to afford the cost of school (boo) or figuring out a way to get to Ireland (I’ve lived there in the past and have active acting actor friends there). However getting to Ireland legally was a challenge. I realized I wanted to teach, I wanted to travel, and I wanted to be engaged in and with my life. I love New York yet there was a shift in our relationship. I began to feel as if I was staying in a relationship that was familiar, loved, and comfortable but, at this point, had gone as far it as it was going to go.
Then the way out came in the most unexpected package. And at a time where I was ready to take a leap of faith.
I’ve always been an ardent supporter of fighting human trafficking particularly in the area of sex trafficking with women and children. A friend of mine, Rachel, started a not for profit, http://www.theSOLDproject, which is dedicated to preventing the buying and selling of children for sex. It was a Monday morning, I had been to church the day before and had said to myself and God, “whatever this next step is, be it outside the realm of New York and Ireland, I will do. I am ready.” I fugitively opened my private email account to an email entitled “Life in Thailand”. In it Rachel spoke of SOLD starting a prevention program at a school in Chiang Mai (a city with high risk of sex trafficking). Part of the program would be an arts program. They needed teachers. I stared at the email transfixed. I felt like the light bulb that went off was showing over my head as if I was in a cartoon. This was it. The culmination of all I realized I wanted and needed in my many sleepless nights and tedious days. I poured my heart out to her and ended it with “if you want me, I will go”. I hit send… and then I got lightheaded. I think it was a combination of euphoria and fear. It was about living. I felt happier than I had in months.
It’s now nearly two months into this process and another five until I depart for Thailand. I feel like I am coming back to myself. I’ve put pragmatic me in the backseat and am letting my head work with my heart again. The doors that are opening from this decision that let me be creative again are amazing (even writing this blog! :). In a time of great financial duress people have been generous with funds. Sure, I have had moments of “OMG, wait -what am I doing?!” particularly when I catch the view of NYC from the above ground train or spend time with my friends. Or think about 24 hours of flying and being in a non English speaking country. But it has never changed the way this decision resonates with me. I am going to be creating an arts program and teaching English as a second language to Thai children. I will be doing my part to fight back against the monsters who sell human beings. I will be in an environment where I will be challenged. And I can’t wait. Someone made a joke I was getting my midlife crisis over with early and I laughed. But I know this isn’t what this is. In a mid life crisis you are trying to find out who you are, what you want and what you can do. I know who I am and what I can do and I have, mercifully, found a place where I can use that for something bigger than myself.
Thank you, D., for writing such an honest account of your life and upcoming journey. May you find everything you seek. I have a feeling you will.