As a recent graduate with a degree in theatre, I’m learning that pursuing my passion for theatre is not as simple as I pictured it when I was a college freshman. Most liberal arts majors don’t all of a sudden make it big and successfully steer their lives into a full-time pursuit of their passion. So they have to decide what to do “until they get there.” I realized I need a “day job” in order to pay for the things I really love and want to do. It’s necessary since I have massive student debt from pursuing my degree plus I have bills for just daily living expenses.
Creating Room to Breathe
I’ve also learned that passion is fickle, like a little creature you have to take care of—it really depends on your circumstances. If I don’t have a steady job that pays the bills my passion doesn’t even have room to breathe and nothing is enjoyable. My art feels pointless and my creativity dry. But, when I am supporting myself through a stable and reliable income at a workplace I enjoy, I have the room to breathe and my creativity explodes with the ups and downs of inspiration. My pursuit of passion turns into a pursuit of purpose; I’m suddenly inspired to make a difference, inspire others, and live well.
In contrast, if you focus solely on pursuing your passion in liberal arts, you’re most likely going to be living from job to job, with very little regular income. Sometimes you’ll find yourself living with your parents or with a bunch of other people, barely able to pay your bills. Maybe not all the time, but sometimes you’ll end up relying on other people to support you far more than you planned. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just something you have to be okay with, and so do the people who are supporting you.
As for me, I’ve realized that I must take care of myself in order to better collaborate and relate with others. Right now, that’s truer of my pursuit of theatre art than ever. If I tried to rely on theatre jobs alone to pay the bills I would suffocate my creativity and lose my sense of purpose and passion. So I arrived instead at the idea of gathering the means—the fuel—necessary for my passion to survive and even thrive. I think that’s something you have to learn on your own.
A Job that Fuels your Passion
My job at ACR Homes is that fuel for me. I started as an awake night staff because it was the quickest way to start paying off my student loans. I found I liked the job and they liked me! Plus, I was able to work hard and use quiet time to do things like rehearse my lines or work on my videography portfolio. Then when I needed to switch to daytime hours, ACR was able to accommodate that. I eventually moved to their IT and recruiting departments, where I get to do cool stuff like this (ACR Intern video) and this (joshuastevenpalmer.weebly.com). I get to use aspects of my liberal arts degree (like the energy and creativity I learned in theatre) and I like their mission. But most of all I love how my job at ACR gives me the breathing space to keep my passion alive and pursue my purpose.