3 min read

You Don't Have to Sacrifice Everything

Here's a reality I never thought would be mine: six of the last 18 months were spent living the digital nomad life — working remotely from my laptop while travelling Asia. And it was easily one of the most game-changing experiences of my life.

I don't disclose this to brag. In fact, #realtalk: it took almost two years of intentional life systemisation to get to a place where doing so was possible. But that it was even seen as possible and that we followed through is a conversation worth having.

Experiencing the digital nomad life is by no means on everyone's bucket list, but it was on mine. Yet, until I was seated on that first flight out to Indonesia, I didn't believe it was an experience available to me. I'm an actor, after all. I can't just go gallivanting off to unspecified locations for unspecified periods of time! What if I get an in-person audition? What if I book a job? What if my agent drops me?

But equally: how long was I going to delay — or never even commit to — bucket list experiences for "what ifs"? Was it really okay to sacrifice everything for the sake of being an actor?

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Well? Is it?

The TL;DR version is this: as with almost everything in life, only you know the right answer for you. Unfortunately, few of us give ourselves the time and space to discern what is true for our specific context and, instead, buy into externally propagated "shoulds", "musts", and "have tos". And there are some pretty compelling "shoulds", "musts", and "have tos" out there for us actors — we should abandon other hopes and dreams, we must be available at all times, we have to commit ourselves to the actor's path at the expense of all else.

Now, of course, if you wholeheartedly want to race down the actor's path like a blinkered horse — whether for all eternity or just a season — by all means, go right on ahead. But if you've reluctantly strapped those blinkers on because you feel you should/must/have to, we'd encourage you to reconsider.

Raising kids and racing cars

In our March 2023 edition of Behind the Breakout, Bally Gill revealed he didn't take any holidays between the ages of 15 and 25 because he was "too laser beam focused" on being an actor. Speaking to his perspective today, he says, "As I've gotten a bit older, I've gone, 'I can't put my life on hold'" ... "I don't want anyone to ever feel upset that they put their life on hold for this industry".

For us, as was true for Bally, travel was at the top of the list of non-acting wants/hopes/dreams/desires, but it could be any number of things for you. Maybe you'd like to start a family, go back to school (we may or may not have done this, too 😏 #rebel), or, hell, allow yourself to take up a hobby. Yes, you're an actor, and that likely means a lot to you. But you're also a multi-faceted human, and you'll unlikely be (dramatically sprawled) on your deathbed thinking, "Wow, I'm so glad I sacrificed all other dreams and desires for this acting thing!"

Even your A-list idols express this sentiment — Gal Gadot is smitten with motherhood, saying, "I love giving birth. I would do it once a week if I could. It's so magical"[1], Michael Fassbender fulfilled a lifelong ambition of racing for Porshe[2], and Susan Sarandon has become "the most famous ping-pong player in America"[3]. All three lead rich and fulfilling lives as humans in addition to rich and fulfilling lives as actors. There's no rule saying it has to be one or the other.

Dating other dreams

The obvious caveat here, of course, is that the actor's path requires some commitment. Sustained success as an actor requires some effort and dedication — there are just too many other gladiators in this arena. But you're a Dojo kid, so chances are you're sitting way over on the opposite end of the spectrum (i.e., you've sacrificed 99.99% of your life to be here), and this caveat goes without saying.

Still, you may protest, "But I want to be an actor at the expense of all else". If that's honestly a Whole Body Yes for you, go for your freaking life. If, on the other hand, you recognise that guilt, fear, or anxiety has held you back from pursuing relationships, second careers, or pastimes you'd otherwise adore, consider this an invitation to start dating other dreams.

If you'd like a little more structure to guide these reflections, try:

Let's make the dream happen GIF

☝🏼 Jane Adams said it, friends.

Thoughts / feedback / challenges? We'd genuinely love to hear.

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[1] https://www.instyle.com/celebrity/gal-gadot/february-2022-cover

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFvQbWRxajc

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/feb/09/susan-sarandon-ping-pong