The words every artist, performer and creative will hear at some point throughout their lives. Whether the words are snarled to you by an old relative at Christmas or patronisingly addressed by a careers advisor, we will all hear them at some point. The phrase will infuriate some of us, and devastate others. Yet my question is what constitutes as a ‘proper job?’ We seem to live in this warped society where our generation is expected to jump into a career, make money, provide ‘stability’. When, let’s face it, the majority endure the droll old nine to five, enjoy a cold pint at the local, drive a semi-decent car on finance and flash their Armani watch in every Instagram shot. What’s that? That’s comfortable. What’s comfortable? Boring. That’s not a life that makes you want to wake up and jump out of bed in the morning. I mean, personally, I don’t find the thought of filing and typing away from 9 till 5 particularly thrilling.
The industry we want to go into may not fill all of our pockets, we may still have to scrimp and save to meet this month’s rent. We may be gutted when we don’t get that part we so desperately wanted, or when the play we spent months writing gets slaughtered. We may always look knackered because throwing yourself into a production, whether you’re on or off the stage, well, it’s downright exhausting. But you know what? It is all so worth it.
That end result. The one yes from a director, after staying up all night perfecting that bloody accent. The friends in rehearsal rooms that become family. The reaction from an audience. When somebody turns and says ‘thanks, I needed that.’ ‘I’m proud of you.’ The feeling, the pure adrenaline when you know you’ve created something brilliant.
The arts are so under appreciated. That is no secret at all. Children are taught the importance of the multiplication tables and how vital it is to construct a complex sentence. Yet we need to prove how much more the arts can teach. The ability to see life through another’s eyes teaches true empathy, the prospect of an empty stage provokes creativity. You learn about the world, explore different walks of life, and appreciate different views and opinions. You have a total freedom to say ‘I’m going to do this’, no matter how mental you sound (and probably end up looking.) Have you ever seen a child play on their own? You know, when they think you aren’t watching? All of a sudden your four year old brother becomes eight different characters in an adventure, where a cowboy from mars defeats a dragon with a ladle from your mum’s kitchen. We need to encourage that. It’s our job to make sure those little sparks of creative genius turn into flames. It’s also our job to make sure nobody tries to blow those flames out.
We need to make sure that nobody is less valued for saying ‘I want to be an actor’ as opposed to ‘I want to be a lawyer.’ Because, the world needs us all. The more we create and love and live, the more the miserable naysayers will realise, we may not have the most ‘stable’ careers, but we are much more alive than they will ever dream of being. So let’s take our ‘not real’ jobs and turn all these flames into one huge roaring fire. Create something, anything. Sing that song out of tune. Write that poem. Talk to people, listen to people. Appreciate each other’s talents, encourage them further. Because, I promise, you will gain more from all of those things in the long run than you will from a few letters on a piece of paper, or an extra zero on your payslip.
The irony lies in the fact that the people who claim us to be clowns wasting our time, are the ones who need us the most. They don’t realise it. But they do. The creatives, the artists, the performers, the downright weird and wonderful are the ones who make them laugh, make them cry, make them think. But above all, we make their ‘real world’ that little more bearable through sheer entertainment. But, of course…. We won’t ever dare suggest we have ‘real’ jobs.