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Let’s Talk: Why Don’t You Get A Real Job?

We’ve all been there.  Whether it’s a family member, friend, or even a complete stranger – “Why don’t you get a real job?” Now, of course, your Nana meant it with good intentions and the guy you went to high school with whom you ran in to at the grocery store – probably not so much – but what does that even mean? A “real” job? While you can grit your teeth to force a smile at Nana more than you can with the guy who you’re pretty sure was in your math class but maybe your history class and where are the God-forsaken Oreos in this place? – Are they right?

When someone says to an artist to get a “real job” they’re blanketing the concept of financial stability.  Good intentions or not, the reputation of any aspect of working in the arts is that it’s not a guaranteed financially stable income and that’s a fact.

Regardless of how trained and talented you are, there are still no guarantees.

It almost goes as far as to mark us as broke even if we’re doing well.  Personally, I was once home on school vacation my freshman year and grocery shopping with my mother as we ran in to one of those types who knew my mom and recognized me from being 5-years-old – so I had no idea who he was.  He asked what I was studying in college and I told him acting.  He then asked me what I was actually going to do and I still get a small bonfire of rage every time I walk by a bread aisle 5 years later.

The thing about being an artist is that we’re not in it for the money. No one sits down and actively decides, “Boy, I sure can’t wait to not know where my next paycheck comes from!”

We work in the arts whether it’s acting, making music, producing or what have you because we would rather risk not knowing where our next paycheck comes from than do anything else.  We eat, sleep and breathe our craft so deeply in our core that the very concept of working a “real job” or a “financially stable” job is still off-putting.  In and of itself, that is more admirable than settling for a paycheck.

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