This was a very hard post to write, and it’s really scary to put this out there in the world.
At what point do you decide that your dream, the dream you thought you were passionate about, isn’t working anymore? At what point do you give up on your dream?
Maybe you just aren’t getting the results you thought you would be getting. Maybe its the financial side you’re looking at, and you aren’t earning enough. Or perhaps you aren’t actually passionate about it, that you once were, but now you’re not. And it’s time to step away. And when you do step away, is that called failure? Have you failed to achieve your dream? Are you giving up?
No. I don’t think so. I think people grow and change, and you need to adapt to that. I think if what you thought you loved to do isn’t making you happy anymore, then change something. If changing something means going in a completely new and different direction, then do it.
I do acknowledge that if you’ve been chasing your dream for so long, it’s not as simple as just… not doing it anymore.
To suddenly stop chasing that dream does feel like failure, it does feel like you’re giving up. You’re emotionally and mentally invested, and you have been for years. I get that. I get it because I went through it. At the time I felt like a weak person and that I was never going to amount up to anything. That I never am* going to amount up to anything.
I was thinking about my dream, and the fact that I have no idea what my dream is anymore. Do I even have a dream? What makes me happy? What gets me excited? What do I get butterflies for? I came up with these three answers:
1. Space & Science Fiction / Science (I get excited)
2. Cats (I love)
3. Travel (I get butterflies)
So from the above, my dream could be that I want to be an astronaut that discovers aliens, have a house full of cats, and travel a lot (Which I would be doing if I were an astronaut right? Travelling to different planets?). Cool. But seriously, I don’t think I have a ‘dream’. I’m not chasing anything right now, I’m not working towards anything. So giving up what I thought was my dream, makes it feel all the more of a failure.
What was my dream?
When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an actor. I wanted people to watch me on screen, I wanted to be different, to be something special, and I wanted people to notice me. I wanted to be cool, and talented, and sought after. Plus I had a lot of fun performing on stage (The instant gratification was thrilling), or acting in front of a camera. I liked being in front of a camera lens, whether it was acting or photography. The spotlight can be fun. And fun is what life is meant to be about right? Right.
Does the amount of money you earn, legitimise your dream? It felt like it was a required factor.
I thought acting was going to be my ‘thing’. I left University after my first year to do an On-Screen Acting diploma, and had the best year of my life at that point. Looking back, I definitely don’t regret it. I studied the Meisner acting technique for two years after that, while working at a cinema, then stayed in the Meisner master class for another three years. In between this time I also took American accent classes, I filmed short films, I performed on stage, I travelled around schools and performed an anti-bullying show. I had fun. I didn’t earn much money. Does the amount of money you earn, legitimise your dream? It felt like it was a required factor.
I also auditioned and auditioned for TV, but I never got the role. It became apparent I loved acting, but hated auditioning. I was never comfortable in an audition room, in front of casting directors, trying to convince them I was good at pretending to be someone else. In fact I’ve never been great at convincing people to believe in me – there’s just something so hard about believing in yourself so much that you convince other people to believe in you to.
There’s just something so hard about believing in yourself so much, that you convince other people to believe in you too.
Ultimately, what happened was that I became less and less confident in myself. I grew terrified of auditions and dreaded my agent calling me to book an audition. I stopped enjoying acting. I couldn’t handle the judgment anymore; I became anxious, I started to feel terrified of acting in front of my acting class, in front of my friends. I developed all of these new fears in places that I was once so strong and carefree. I still loved performing on stage and in front of a camera, I just hated everything you had to do to get to that point.
I developed all of these new fears in places that I was once so strong and carefree.
So I gave it up. I wasn’t happy. It wasn’t happening. I was miserable in my life. You guys probably know the story from there, I went backpacking around Europe and moved to London. Did I feel like a failure? Yes. Do I regret giving it up? Not necessarily. Do I miss it? I miss acting, yes. I don’t miss auditioning and I don’t miss the way I started feeling. I don’t miss being anxious, I don’t miss being terrified, I don’t miss feeling like a failure.
They say that emotions have two sides, that when you’re terrified, it’s actually the other side of excitement. So you can turn that nervous energy into excitement. Just like they say love and hate are two sides of the same coin. My excitement had slid into fear and I couldn’t slide it back.
At what point do you give up what you thought was your dream?
For me, it was when I became terrified of doing the one thing I thought I loved.
When you keep on hearing people say things like ‘The difference between successors and failures is that failures stop trying’ and see the motto ‘If you don’t succeed, try and try again’, and you generally understand that logic – it’s so hard to admit giving up something and becoming that failure. Do people think I’m the failure they’re not?
It’s hard to admit all of this and have that running through your mind.
Have you ever given up doing something before? Did you ever get over feeling like a failure? How did you cope? Did you feel better for it, or did you have to really work hard to change your perspective?