I read something recently about “earnest prayer.” I’m not, nor have I ever been, religious but I will admit that sometimes I long for the solace of prayer and believing that there is someone there listening. Sometimes I find life so overwhelmingly complicated that I yearn to be able to put it in the hands of someone else. Unfortunately for me, I just can’t bring myself to really believe in a higher power nor do I even believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that you make what happens and that sometimes pure chance either helps you out or knocks you down. Nonetheless, this earnest prayer that I was reading about was from a lifelong actor who prayed that her call to the theatre would be taken away from her until she was ready to go back to it and this struck a chord with me.

I’ve been out of theatre school for the better part of two years and have done exactly one project that I cared about. One single project that filled my artistic cup and made me remember all the reasons I got into this messy life in the first place. Sure, I’ve worked on half a dozen shows in this time period but most of them were the bottom of the barrel. Take-what-you-can-get kind of stuff and I can’t seem to “get” anything worth doing. I feel out of my element and lost. I feel like I’m drowning in the overwhelming task of making a life in the theatre. I love it. I do. There is nothing in life that gets me more passionate and feeling more alive than working on something that I love but all of these projects I’ve been doing just to do something have left me feeling drained, frustrated and hopeless. Which is why, lately, I’ve been wondering if this is the right path for me and why reading about that prayer nearly brought me to tears.

I’ve been considering the idea of just giving up. Of packing up my vocal warmups and my transitive verbs and my clown nose and putting them in a box in the darkest corner of my proverbial closet but every time I get close to a decision I get scared. I’ve done basically nothing with my life in the last 16 years that didn’t revolve around theatre. I don’t have any other passions in life. There are other things I like, other things I enjoy but there is nothing else that I have ever encountered that makes me feel the way theatre does. So if I give that up, what do I have? And if I give that up, how do I hold on to my pride and my identity? What will my theatre school friends think? How many I-told-you-so’s will I have to listen to from my friends and family who have always thought I was out to lunch to even go to theatre school in the first place?

I know I could never give it up forever. That is not an option but I am exhausted from failure. I have completely and totally failed in pursuing my dreams and while that is not necessarily a bad thing (all good theatre emerges from failure, after all) it is demoralizing and I can feel my spirit breaking. I just need a break. I need some time to figure out what I really want in life and to revitalize my will to get there. Writing this down is the closest I have ever come to speaking these words out loud. And, of course, we all know that saying it out loud makes it real. I’m still not ready to do it for real, I don’t think, but I’m getting closer. So, I guess in a way, this is my version of an earnest prayer and boy is it ever scary.

I wish that somehow this could be easier or that someone could just hand me a neat and tidy solution but life’s not like that. There are no pamphlets or neon signs or perfect little ribbon-y bows, there is just a mess of desire, emotion and fact that never seem to get along. But If I can’t find revitalization from what I love then maybe the only answer is to leave it be. I’ll come back to it, I know I will, but maybe, just maybe, now is not the right time to be in it.

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