I’ve made a lot of absolutely illogical decisions since the pandemic wrecked our whole lives. First, I decided to start a theatre company. And there’s just so much I still don’t know, so much I’m learning, so much that scares me and keeps me up at night.
Then I decided to quit my job. My theatre job. In the middle of a pandemic that isn’t going away anytime soon. My theatre job with health insurance. My theatre job that I moved across the country and left my husband for.
Am I crazy? Well, clinically, yeah. But colloquially? Did I really just walk away from a full-time theatre job now?
Something I’ve written about before (a lot before) is I learned a really hard lesson this summer: There is no such thing as a safety net. I knew that intellectually but not really. I didn’t think it could happen to me. And then it did.
That’s what the first break. I never recovered from it.
Then, because I was so paranoid that at any minute the university would lay me off, I kept taking on more and more jobs. I took so many side jobs in July that it got to a point that I had to have people remind me “Wait, which one is this?” And I’ve never been that kind of person. My calendar is color-coded!
July almost broke me. I had to take all of August to recover. I was absolutely not okay.
Then, work started to pick back up and I started to notice how my job was changing. It’s frankly no longer possible to do the job I moved here for so it’s fair that my supervisors (I hate that word, btw) had to figure out how to “pivot” my role.
But here’s the thing: If I can’t do the thing I love, the thing I moved for and I don’t really have job security….you know that spiel too. That was the next break.
The pandemic has made me really question: What do I love to do?
I love to teach college students and have really important conversations. I love to nerd out about theatre history. I loveto write plays and work with (not for) theatre companies. I love to produce plays and I love to read a lot of plays. I like to have someone who’s loosely over me as a collaborator but not a direct supervisor. I like to do my own thing on my own terms and to not have to report every single step I’m taking. Or why. I love having the creative space to take a risk and maybe even fail and know it’s not the end of the whole world.
(I keep ending up in these work environments where “as close to perfection” is the standard and that’s toxic. People make more mistakes when they’re expected to be perfect and not nurtured and trusted. But that’s an aside for another time.)
It’s not always a good thing but I like being fully immersed in multiple jobs. I love what I do and I want to do it all the time. And in lots of different ways.
I also really like being able to have time to get out of my head, to go outside, and just get lost in nature for a bit. I don’t like to hike or run or attack the outdoors with my feet. I just like to be in it. To read a book under a tree. To float in a kayak in the middle of the lake. To have a dance party in the middle of nowhere.
Something I’ve always said is I want to be happy. I am not built to make a ton of money at a job I hate. But I’m also not built to make less than $45k/year and not be treated well or to be constantly stifled. Like if you want to make me the scapegoat for everything that goes wrong, Imma need at least 75k. Then you can blame me all day.
I could see the writing on the wall and what my job was becoming…
That was the final break.
But also, if I’m being really honest with myself, my October is packed. Even if my job was going really great, I would’ve had to make a choice. I’m in residence for two different companies in October. There’s no way I could do that if I was still working full-time in production.
And it’s not just October. I’m directing Well-Intentioned White People in November and I’m f*cking tired of writing plays about this will get a reading at my grad school which is a dream of mine. Things are lining up and who knows what else will pop up?
I don’t know how many times I need to learn this lesson. Do I love production? Deeply. Will I ever pick production over playwriting? Nope.
It’s so easy to get stuck on all the bad things. It’s so easy to look at how I’ve been wronged and to start planning my revenge and writing passive aggressive resignation letters. I’m a fire-bender and an Aries-rising.
But I say that in my writing I focus on joy, not trauma. And I need to start doing that in real life. Not in a toxic positivity way because f*ck that, sh*t sucks right now. But I also don’t need to start screaming “Dracarys” every time a supervisor comes at me the wrong way.
I am living a dream right now. I’m the AD of my company and working with new artists every month. I’m teaching college students. I have 4 different plays going up before the end of the year and this means I’ll have even more time to write. And maybe it’s not the dream but it feels like it could be.
Am I terrified? Of course I am. But I also feel kind of free. And yes, if I don’t have a job by December, I’m f*cked. But I have more time than I think. Maybe I’m being reckless but I’m still young enough to be dumb enough to try.
The best lesson the pandemic has taught me is we’ve got to stop asking for things they’re never going to give us. Respect, promotions, better pay. We have to make our own way. If we want something, we’re going to have to either build it or take it.
Whatever happens next, I know it’s because I made a choice. And come what may, I’m ready for it.