Why do I feel so guilty?
Have you ever had a great night out, got back home at 4 in the morning, turned on the computer and started to do some work related activities?
When you’re out with your friends laughing and joking….do you ever pause and think ‘Shit….I need to go home and do some work…. I feel really bad, I should be working…..writing……producing…..exercising.’
Have you ever had these thoughts?
This is hard for me to admit….slightly embarrassing but all of the above apply to me. Yes…I am….a…….. WORK’AHOLIC. There. I have said it. Yes, I am addicted to working……so much so, I feel guilty for having……. fun!
When did this happen to me? Wdid I transform into this creature who uses work as a drug? Without this drug, I fail to function. Without it I go through a pain staking conversation with my conscience. Confronted by the thought that I am wasting time socialising and what I should be doing is working. Now before you start thinking…… ‘Anniwaa…. girl about town…..out all the time ….living an actress life of meeting loads of beautiful vibrant people and nonstop partying. I will need to stop you there!
The truth is, yes I meet a lot of people in my line of work and I adore people, I have no problem making time for someone. I am motivated by diverse conversations that I have with internationals (lot of my friends are from all over the world – Internationals is my nick name for that collective) getting to know life from the various perspectives that I encounter is always invigorating. However there is a balance that needs to be maintained. If I play hard I work harder to compensate. If I go out and dance the night away, the next day I will be working all day from 7am -1am to compensate.
Crazy, stupid, pathetic, weird? Yeah maybe. But for a long time I naively assumed that this is what one does. Friends of mine have convinced me that it is not normally for someone to work so much. It is not normal to feel like you should be punished for having fun! So I ask the question again, when did this happen to me? When did I transform into this creature who uses work as a drug? Without this drug I fail to function.
Well I was a busy child. I was always painting, singing, acting and dancing. When I started ballet at 6 years old this helped me to channel my energy and focus. Ballet enabled me to discipline my time effectively. However as a perfectionist I was obsessed with having the ultimate jump, pirouette etc. So even though I was going to class 3 days a week, the other 4 days of the week I would be practicing all hours of the day working hard to get perfection. I would get up and the first thing I would want to do is dance. Also I saw how hard my parents worked to afford my Dance classes and I began to understand the work and play balance. I was the dancer mastering, allegro, arabesque and jeté . Whilst my parents were the workers, working all day and night to provide opportunities for the development of their kids creativity. I observed and learned from this and I think that this was the beginning of my creative journey and determination to be successful aka my addiction to work!
But what is the cost of all play and no work or all work and no play?
Mmmm, I shall start to dissect using the basis of Truth or Dare….
TRUTH: As an actor you are aware of the fact that you are not working a 9-5 job getting paid a monthly wage with benefits and simply living for the weekend to escape the monotonous boredom that SOME 9-5 jobs inflict on an individual. Knowing that you don’t have this kind of lifestyle makes you aware of the fact that you are not being spoon-fed your work. You are a freelancer going from one place to another experiencing new things and meeting a lot of different, fun, crazy people
TRUTH: As a freelancer you are always looking for work.
TRUTH: As an actor you are continually looking for new opportunities to further your career and perfect your craft.
TRUTH: Yes, you have an agent that does this for you, but your agent is also doing this for other actors on their books. So to ensure that you are in the best position career wise, what do you do? You begin the continuing process of researching and looking for work. If you’re serious about your career you would want to ensure that you’re being considered for most opportunities, one that can’t afford to miss.
TRUTH: This doesn’t mean put all your energy in getting the work and forgetting about the creativity and quality of your craft, your business. This means that you need to find the balance between the grafting of the work and the refining of your tools. There is no point applying for a £30,000 paid Bikkini advert if you know that your body looks like it has seen the gym in years, because all that work with be for nothing if you can’t deliver the goods.
TRUTH: Unlike the 9-5 office workers, who have been assigned a particular job role, by only being judge by their work. You are being judge on your accent, personality, body, looks, height, skin color, race etc. Bearing this in mind, you will be constantly working at your skills and physical ability a continuous action which is maintained by working hard.
TRUTH: There is this fear in SOME actors that this means that you never take time off. You work all year round and never leave the country in case you get the casting of the life time, but you missed out because you were on a yacht in Sardina. For those types of actors staying in one place all year with a weekend away here and there is feasible.
As a workaholic, I believe that you can reward yourself with an adventure, holiday or a new pair of shoes, what ever you want but only when you know that the work has been done and you did it to the best of your ability.
I believe that it is essential for an actor to utilise their knowledge and experiences to give a truthful representation of a character and do justice to a writer’s work, if you are willing to venture out of the city you inhabit and explore! I love working, I love acting but that love means nothing if I am stuck in a rut simply because I don’t want to run the risk of taking some time off. As an actor you are constantly analysing yourself and those around you, as you are required to bring a range of different skills and knowledge to the table to bring a character to life. How can you do this if the only reference that you have of the world, is from one perspective.
It is imperative to be curious….to yearn for knowledge and an understanding of life beyond four walls.
An actor has a career path and a schedule to attain. Unlike the business world we do not have 28 days paid holiday, (unless you are contracted to a long term drama.) If you feel the need to step away from the game to reflect, analyse and plan…you can do at a drop of hat. If going away, clearing your mind puts you in a better place, mentally, physically and emotionally, then go for it, in the long run you will return refreshed and in better position to focus and be at the top of your game.
There are so many rules that we are required to follow legally and there are also many made up rules that we are ‘suggested’ to follow. Concerning yourself with the ‘suggested’ rules only prohibits you living your life. By ‘suggested’ rules I mean ;
‘By the time your 30 you should know what you are doing in life’
‘Travelling is for gap year students…you get it out of your system earlier and then settle in one place after that for the rest of your life.’
‘You have been in a relationship for 5 years, marriage must be next.’
Following such suggested rules creates a long cycle of ‘what if’s? ‘The thought of having a ‘what if’ lodge in my brain kills me. You have a feeling or thought that won’t go away…deal with it. If you don’t it will just eat you up inside.
For all the weird, crazy, embarrassing, stupid things I have done in my life so far, I always try to ensure that their worth it because I have got rid of my ‘what ifs.’
* When I was 8 years old I nearly drowned. After that ordeal, I was scared of open water and decided that I never wanted to swim. Years went by and I would always avoid the prospect of swimming. But ‘what if’ I was on a plane that unfortunately crashed into the Atlantic and swimming was the only way of survival? Well I would be dead. A random thought but a ‘what if‘ there was always lodged in my head. So I took swimming lessons, realized that I knew how to swim but it was my fear that was blocking my body from functioning.
* Liked a guy, wasn’t honest with him at the time. Thought I could hide my feelings and get on with life but my ‘What if?’ grew in size and got the better of me. Months/ years down the line decided to send a message admitting my feeling…..but the moment had passed and there was no context to the message, embarrassing, stupid but f*** it, at least I got rid of that ‘what if?’
I did the above because I know I couldn’t live in fear and regret.
DARE: Turn your back on routine and do something that makes you lost for words.
DARE: Talk to a random stranger and see what happens.
DARE: Be honest with your opinions regardless.
DARE: Ask for help.
Whatever it is you are afraid of, confront it and look beyond the fear. Life begins where fear ends.
I am not a writer, just a blabber, a girl that asks many questions but never knows how to collate the answers. Just a normal girl with nothing more to say, than words that mean nothing but say something.