Stop Telling Young People Interested In Theatre How Difficult Their Lives Will Be

  • Abbie Harris

My adoration for the theatre industry began when I saw my first pantomime at the age of four. I turned to my mum and said I wanted to be up on stage one day. She smiled at me and told me to go for it.

A few years down the line, however, more and more relatives grew concerned that I still didn’t want to pursue a “real job.” As if that phrase didn’t grate on my nerves enough, when my resolve even hadn’t been broken by the age of sixteen, many family members felt the need to lecture me about my life choices. They took it upon themselves to enlighten me to the true nature of the industry I had spent my life appreciating.

I know they only do it because they care and want me to have a stable future, but it makes me want to lay down in a dark, quiet room for a while. They talk to me as if I’m four years old again, trying to convince me they know more about the cons and pitfalls of the career I want when I’m the one who has actually been in productions and is now taking a drama degree. Where are your years of theatre experience, Grandma?

Yes, Auntie, I am aware that I could be unemployed for months at a time. Yes Cousin, I know it’s not glamorous. Yes, Random-Friend-of-Mum-Who-I-Have-Not-Seen-For-Months-Who-Can’t-Even-Spell-My-Name-Right, I do think acting is a real job, and I do believe I could be good enough for it!

Mum, why aren’t you telling me to go for it now?

I love the direction my life is heading in, but I second guess myself every other step of the way because of the misguided efforts of my family to make sure that I’m sure. If you really want me to be sure, please just tell me you support me. I’m not saying don’t challenge me, because that’s how I can prove to you I mean business and have done my homework on this. But after you back off from the debate, don’t just roll your eyes and walk away because it sucks to think you don’t take me and my ambitions seriously. Tell me you’re proud of the way I’ve stayed so determined, and that you’re happy I’ve found something that makes me so happy. Feeling stupid for clinging to my childhood dream is a horrible, gut-wrenching thing.

People should stop telling young people interested in theatre how difficult their lives will be because odds are, we know already, but we’re just too in love with the industry to stop. Our passion is what drives us, and we should be encouraging our future generations to fight for what they want in life and to keep harnessing the drive to succeed.