You were livin’ the dream. You had the fairy tale all set up. You had a plan:
- the auditions lined up
- the contract in place
- the performances scheduled
- the teaching jobs locked in
- the guesting gigs secured
And then this world-wide shutdown happened. And it all disappeared in a puff of smoke. Years, decades even, of securing a career for yourself suddenly threatened by something outside of your power to control. You had the fairytale dream…or at least a plan to work towards it…and then lost it all.
It’s okay to mourn that loss. I get it; this sucks. Full disclosure, I’ve been dealing with my fair share of rage these days. But sooner or later you are going to have to pick up the pen and start writing your story again. No one knows for sure how things will play out in the months and years ahead. But one thing is certain - things are going to change. And it's up to you to be ready to adapt to that change. That is going to require creativity on your part.
We're not talking about “creativity” as an essential component for your art. We all are familiar with that.
We’re talking about creativity in the sense of building the life you actually want to be living. This is lifestyle design at its finest. This is creativity and craftiness put to good use so you can not only survive but thrive on your own despite the circumstances.
Especially now, creativity is more important than ever. When things do reopen again, the jobs that used to support you might not be there:
- Performance seasons could be called off if theaters are limited in their seating capacity.
- The companies you used to guest for might not have the funds to hire you for nutcracker season.
- The schools you used to teach for might have to cancel the summer intensives that got you through the dry summer months.
- Even your side hustle restaurant or retail job might not be a sure-thing as businesses of all kinds start feeling the impact of this shutdown.
Sure, if things get bad, you could run home, cower in the corner, and feel sorry for yourself that you don't have the same opportunities to dance as before. Or, you could take charge over your current situation and find new ways of making money and finding fulfillment. You might even be surprised by what interests and fulfills you when forced to reach outside the box. Find new ways of making money. Find new ways of creating art. Find new ways of connecting with the world.
At the end of the day, you really only have 2 choices:
- Enjoy the f*ck out of the life you are living right now.
- Or be miserable wishing you were somewhere else, someone else, with a different reality.
Which do you think offers a more fulfilling existence?
You can only do the best you can with the things you have control over. You may not be presented with the ideal scenario you dreamt up for yourself as a child ("I'm going to be a soloist with insert-favorite-company-here someday!"). But that doesn't mean you can't be completely happy in the life you create one step at a time. But the key word in that sentence is “create.” You have to do the work. You have to build the opportunities. Otherwise you’re just waiting for things to fall in your lap…for things to happen TO you. And there’s no power in that.
Don't allow yourself to be manipulated and discouraged by this situation. Take charge over your destiny. Get creative. Design the lifestyle you want to be living out of this current reality.
This post isn't meant to scare you. It's meant to prepare you - arm you with the mindset needed to carve your own path out of the raw material you have to work with. Who knows...your situation might not be affected much at all if the right people pull together to make good decisions. Or, this could be something we are still paying for 10 years from now.
But one thing is for certain - if you use your creativity to adapt and adjust to whatever happens, you'll be able to maintain your power & the agency over your life without crumbling from whatever messiness comes out of this shutdown. And that could be key to a fulfilling existence even if it's not the dream scenario you once thought you wanted.
Trust me, there is nothing more powerful than carving your own path through the muck that the world throws at you.
When you prove that you can't be taken down by the circumstances…
When you refuse to crumble and give in…
When you show up and adapt to what needs to be done…
When you refuse to roll over and fall in line like a good little sheep…
When you use your power and skills to shift your course…
You prove to yourself that you can survive on your own with a little hard work, determination, and creativity...and there is almost nothing more rewarding than that.
This is your chance to do just that. Adapt & design your life despite the difficulties you face.
You won't regret leaving your fairytale dream behind when you discover the power behind writing your own story.
"A life without creativity lacks intention, shape, and connection to our own humanity. Without creativity to reveal our own agency, we become a cork bouncing in the tide."
~ Chase Jarvis, "Creative Calling"
Photo credit: Rachel Neville