Do you find yourself wondering if it’s the right time to take a break from your acting career?
It could be that you are tired, burnt out, and feeling generally unfulfilled.
Your survival job is starting to feel like a relief compared to your passion.
You start to dread auditions.
Maybe your health is suffering.
Perhaps you are thinking about starting a family.
I’ve been there.
ALL of these things were me back in 2013. I had just finished a production of Miss Saigon (KIM understudy, again – don’t get me started, that is a long healing heartbreak) and planning my wedding. I had moved an hour north of New York City to save my mental health and be closer to my then fiancé. We had been in a long distance relationship for over a year and we were totally over it.
I decided to take a break from acting for awhile, at least until after the wedding. Got married the summer of 2013, and then did a smattering of projects in 2014. THEN I got pregnant. I was determined to try to work but I wasn’t prepared for how tired I would be. Submitting to agencies that specialized in casting pregnant women didn’t amount to anything. That pregnancy was textbook annoying. I’m talking morning sickness, exhaustion, food aversions (all I ate during my first trimester were cheese pizza and potato chips), debilitating back pain (figured out why when my daughter was born weighing close to 9 lbs,THANKS KID), and my hands went numb. Luckily, that’s all it was.
Once my daughter was born, I thought that I could go back to auditioning, but nothing prepared me for the first 6 months of her life. She never slept. I was exhausted, cranky, and my body was just…not shaped right anymore. My confidence was low. Perhaps I also had mild PPD but I was so tired, it was impossible to know if my crankiness was because of that or the lack of sleep.
Then I had emergency surgery for a 10 centimeter tumor growing on my ovary. That was fun. At least I got two weeks of uninterrupted sleep, hah!
I went on a few auditions and did a couple of things while my daughter was 2, then I got pregnant again. Haven’t attempted to resurrect my career since. I just plain didn’t want to.
That’s a long break.
Well, yeah. It is. But I just lost interest. My priorities changed. And that’s okay.
A ‘friend’ of mine thought I was insane. He told me that he just couldn’t fathom walking away from his career, that I would lose momentum, casting directors would forget about me, bla bla bla. What I would have liked to hear was, “I’m glad you are taking time for yourself” or “You will come back stronger.” But nah. Just made to feel stupid. #canceled
So I am here, to tell YOU, that it’s okay for you to take a break from your acting career.
Again. IT IS OKAY FOR YOU TO TAKE A BREAK FROM YOUR ACTING CAREER
Let me tell you why.
Be it your mental health or your physical health, you cannot expect to put your whole self forward at an audition if you are not healthy. A little cold is one thing, but if you had a traumatic birth experience, or if you are suffering from PPD/PND, if you’re just TOO exhausted caring for a newborn, then sit out for awhile. If you have unexpected health problems, then ABSOLUTELY take a break, please. It’s perfectly fine to take care of yourself and let your career take a breather because the truth is, you’re the one who needs a breather.
Refocusing priorities after having children is pretty much a given. There are some parents (and I am not one of them) who are able to seamlessly move between motherhood and actor-hood. How do they do it? No idea – I wish I knew! BUT, but, but, but (very big but!) – that doesn’t mean their kids aren’t a priority, don’t get me twisted. We aren’t talking about them, we are talking about you. If you feel you have more important things to focus on (kids, finances, aging parents, moving…the reasons don’t matter, what matters is that they’re YOURS), then do it. There is no guilt to be had here. Guilt, for the most part is useless.
Devoting so much time into the creation of other people (characters or children, both apply here, right?) can leave you feeling empty. The feeling of “erasure” in motherhood is a sentiment shared far across the board. I guarantee you, there is no person who hasn’t felt they’ve lost part or all of themselves after becoming a parent. And while “taking a break from acting” may seem counterintuitive here, it allows you to focus on your emerging type, find new songs and monologues (ones that you can REALLY dig into now that you’re fully tapped into your ‘mother brain’), and build confidence again.
To expand on “finding yourself,” you may feel like you want to broaden your mind, explore other avenues besides acting or performance. Consider starting a business, perhaps. An Etsy store, or a blog. Something creative to keep you fulfilled that you can do on your own time. Or maybe you want to do something completely different for awhile. Go back to school! Finish your degree or find a new one. Creativity burnout is so real, and maybe the way to recover from it is to leave it all behind.
Finally, your interests may have changed. Maybe not forever, but for the unforeseeable future. The need for stability can weigh heavy, especially in an industry where gigs may or may not be consistent. Also, age – something that we’ve been conditioned to fear as actors. As we get older, we seek to find a deeper meaning in our lives. If your acting career has lost its momentum, or if you aren’t finding fulfillment in it anymore, then yes, take a break. Come back whenever you’re ready. At least you won’t be starting from scratch! This article from Backstage will put your mind at ease.
Repeat after me. It’s okay to take a break from my acting career.
Now, take a deep breath.
You’re going to be okay. Your career is going to be okay.
Now, go and find your support system. Stay away from those ‘friends’ who question your decision. It’s not their life, it’s not their stress, it’s not their business. If you need me, I am here!
What about me?
Still on my break, raising my babies. Writing this blog. Writing my scripts. I’ll be ready when I return, but for now, I am happy. Sometimes it’s hard when I see friends who’ve started their careers at the same time as I did already seeing the fruits of their consistency, but I have to keep remembering…they’re not me. I am not them. There is not one path to success, just as there is not one definition of it, either.
Have you taken a break? Did you find something new about yourself? Let me know in the comments!
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