A Tale of Two Jobs

In many ways, I am extremely fortunate and profoundly privileged. I grew up in a middle class family in Pennsylvania that has been forever supportive of my artistic career goals and even my career whims. They supported me through college at New York University, and every day, I acknowledge just how rare that is. Especially considering I have heard stories from a number of professional dancers about how their parents refused to pay for higher arts education and/or flat out told them they needed to have a “back up” plan. Note to parents: you can do better than that. I understand your concern that your child be self-supporting and happy, but why is it that being a doctor or lawyer is all parents can throw their support at? 

It’s true, I might never be the next Bill Gates (although I haven’t personally ruled that out), but with the encouragement of my parents, and ultimately the value of my BFA in Dance (with no double major), is what put me in the position to be writing this blog entry about the multiple art-based jobs I currently hold. And most importantly, they make it worthwhile for me to get up in the morning.

I can’t lie—it’s certainly a double edge sword. On one hand, I’m a paid working artist, and on the other hand, well… I’m a working artist. 

It’s not all fun and games, but I’m also pretty sure you won’t find a single doctor that went through eight years of medical school and two to four years of a residency without a little struggle. And besides, sometimes my jobs really are fun and games. Most of the week I am in rehearsal, dancing full-time with contemporary dance-theater company Vim Vigor. The other days I am in the Talos office, working on websites and all things graphic design. And in my free time? What little time I have I spend drawing, painting for commission, or hitting my favorite thai restaurant in the city. I pay for my own rent, food, alcohol, and leisure, all in a city that claims to be among the most expensive in the world. 

I am successful because I have written my own definition of success outside of what society places on the top pedestal. And along the way, I have learned time management, negotiation skills, budgeting, Adobe Creative Suite, website management, and how to do my taxes. Hell, we built an app! I might not be in the same place I am today when I retire in 40 years (and I don’t really plan on it), but I know I have all the skills I need to take whatever curveball life, and my life as an artist, will throw at me. 

So parents, if your child wants to be a doctor, support them. If they want to be a fireman, support them. If they want to be a cook, support them. If they want to be an artist, dear god support them. I didn’t get where I am solely on talent. It took hard work, long hours, the support of my family, and ultimately a goal that I was truly passionate about. Without passion, work is just work, and that’s no fun at all. I think it’s time we stop encouraging our kids to get rich and start encouraging them to work hard at what they know and love, work those multiple jobs if need be, and pursue what they are truly and deeply passionate about. Our children will thank us.