So What Works For You? Yes – You!

~ Frances Kitson

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how I’d had enough of being poor, and had decided that it was time for a day job. By this I mean a day job that would pay some actual money, and not a miminum-wage-or-just-barely-more-than job. I’m broke, it sucks, and I’d rather not take twenty years to pay off my student loans.

Next question is, of course, where to look for said day job. Here, things can get very complicated very fast, because there are just so many freaking options. Sometimes, choice really is a problem.

What I’ve realized is that every job is going to have its drawbacks. It might not be super-interesting. Or it might be too interesting. Or it might not be very flexible. Or it might be too flexible – fluctuating hours, etc.

The solution to this, I think, is to just get out there and research, network, apply, repeat. Any action is better than none. Don’t spent time worrying about whether or not something is going to work out, because that way lies perfectionist paralysis. Nothing is going to be perfect, so stop looking for perfection, make something happen, and then work with it.

[Self-indulgent sidenote: Can I tell you what my dream day job would be? Please? Oh goody – it would be working in Corporate Communications for Canadian Heritage. It’s the public sector. It’s an organization about whose focus I get geekily excited. I’d be speaking in French half the time. I’d have fun working on project that I actually felt mattered. Man, I would just be bounding into work!

Or the CBC. I’d take anything at the CBC. I was in giddy transports of delight last week when my letter – first one ever! – was the letter of the day on Q. Oh my gosh – the thrillometer went off the scale. PLUS I got to hear Jian Ghomeshi’s dulcet tones read my name aloud. Sigh…]

Here’s the other thing I realized: there is a middle ground between ignoring my student loan debts and sacrificing acting for their sake. I know people who have made – or are making – lots of money by working in places like Fort St. John, northern Alberta, and Nunavut, and I was musing on the possibility of doing something similar. But I don’t feel now is the time for me. There might come a time when taking six months off to work in a remote location and come home with a pile of cash feels like the right thing to do, but this isn’t it. I’m too invested right now in gaining traction in this burgeoning career of mine.

However. That doesn’t automatically consign me to ten years of minimum payments on my credit card, staring glumly at the helpful note on my bill informing me how many more years it will take at that rate. (You can tell it wasn’t VISA’s idea to print that.) I live on very little now; if I get a better- (read: decently-) paying job and continue to live at more or less the same standard (with exceptions made for such essentials as tickets to the ballet), then the debts can be overcome.

Furthermore, if an acting career really is, according to what is rapidly becoming my favourite quote, an octopus rather than a straight line (thanks to Dawn Brennan for that), then there is still lots of time in which to take four months off and survey northern Alberta for forest fires, bathing once a week out of a bucket. I still seem to be operating along this unconscious assumption that I will at some point launch into an acting career that will feature constant projects for which I must constantly be available. Ha. (Dear brain: if you could cease and desist from presenting options in rigid, absolute, black vs. white terms, that would be very much appreciated. Yours, Frances.)

But here’s what I want to know: how have you done it? Seriously. If you accumulated debts, decided you were tired of being broke, and somehow addressed that situation WITHOUT totally giving up on theatre, how did you do it? What worked for you? What do you wish you’d done differently? What’s working for you now?

There is no need to provide me with advice (unless it’s a hobby of yours, in which I wouldn’t dream of interfering). I just want to hear your story.

If you’d rather not leave a comment below, then email me: kitson.frances@gmail.com. I’ll probably write about what I learned in a future post, but I won’t mention your story or your name without asking you.

Go on then. Write me! I dare you…

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