It's Okay to Take a Break

Stefanie Townsend

This past month, I made a choice I never thought I would make when I began acting over seven years ago. I decided to take a break from acting.

Never in my wildest dreams, never in my years of learning and trying to get cast would I have ever considered taking a break from acting. I’ve worked too hard, learned too much, and fought too fiercely to ever take a break.

The only way I came this far is because I didn’t take a break. I never settled, and I never stopped working to achieve my dreams.

But then, life happened, as life usually does. And things changed. Plans changed, needs changed.

And I realized that I needed to take a break. Sometimes, the truth is, you need to take a break.

It doesn’t mean that you hate theatre. It doesn’t mean that your passion is dead. It doesn’t mean that you’re retiring and can never return. It doesn’t mean your career is over.

Whenever I thought about taking a break, those thoughts ran through my head. That’s always what I thought taking a break was - calling it quits, casting your dreams aside and giving it up.

I thought it was settling.

What it is, though, is time to focus on yourself and your needs.

It’s time for you to re-evaluate what you need, your goals and what your next steps will be.

And there is no shame in that.

Sometimes, you need some normalcy in your life. Sometimes, you just want to go to work, come home, go to bed, rinse and repeat. It doesn’t mean that you hate theatre or your passion, it means you’re burnt out and probably want time for yourself. The theatre life is very fulfilling, rich, impactful, beautiful - but also very busy. Maybe you want to remember what a normal sleep schedule is like, or what a home cooked meal is like.

Maybe you’re just burnt out. Maybe right now, the passion isn’t there, and you want to take some time to re-evaluate, regroup and come back when you’re ready.

Maybe the timing isn’t right for this gig.

Maybe what you’ve wanted for years isn’t what you need. Maybe it’s not what you wanted all along. Maybe you’ve changed what you want to do with your life or the level of commitment you want to put into the craft, and you need to take some time to figure out what it is you want to do now.

There could have been a huge change in your life - a move, starting a new job, or other events. Maybe you need a take a break to adjust to this new part of your life before you can dive into your theatre work.

And that is O.K.

Taking a break isn’t going to damage your career. You won’t be unhirable because you took a break. Taking a few months off doesn’t mean that everyone is suddenly far beyond you in skill and you’re left in the dust.

Taking a break just means you’re allowing yourself some extra time to care for yourself. If you aren’t caring for yourself, then you can’t care for your career and position in the theatre, either.

It’s O.K. to take a break. When you come back, people will welcome you with open arms.