I think once in a while we are all entitled to a rant…Or, at least I am just saying that to justify the following rant. Anyway, recently someone said something to me questioning my career choice and hinting that they thought I was in a “phase.” What came out of this was a blog straight from the heart with no filter. After writing this I realized (with some guidance from outside perspectives) that perhaps it was a little (and by a little, I mean a lot) pointed and aggressive. So…I wrote a follow up that is more helpful and productive. It can be found here. But, for my personal blog…I thought it was completely justifiable to post a blog from the heart. So below is what I originally wrote. Enjoy!
I am a performer and this is my REAL, not play or temporary, career. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this is what I have decided to do with my life. So please stop asking me about whether I have been to college or what my plans are with my life. This is not a “phase” I will grow out of or something I have to do before I move on with my life. I have found something I am passionate about and it is my career. So, please…move on with your questions.
I write this, as so many of my performer friends know, because every other person who learns of our career always inevitably asks, “Oh cool. So what are you going to do when you can’t do this anymore?” Or, more specifically, always in a condescending voice, “That’s cool you’re an acrobat, but you can’t flip your whole life. What are you going to do after?” Don’t believe me? Just ask any performer. I guarantee they have heard this question multiple times in their life. Listen when I tell you that no one seems to be above this question. Parents say this, spouse’s say this, close friends say this, and even managers for the shows I’ve worked in say this.
So, what do I want? I would like everyone to stop asking me this question. Instead, respect the career I have chosen and treat me like you treat your engineer/mechanic/teacher friends. Need some help? I’d be happy to – Here are some things to think about the next time you think about asking me this…
- In addition to school that I attended just like you when I was a kid, I also had 11 years of job specific training before I got my first job. I started working towards this career when I was 5 years old when my parents put me in karate. And this is not just me, but most people in my line of work have been training their whole life to be in this career. Can you say that you have been training your whole life to be in your career?
- I am happy with my life! I have a beautiful wife and daughter. We own a house. Oh and fancy this, I can even afford to save for retirement. What? Surprised? You didn’t think I could make enough to live or that I could make enough in the “circus” to retire on? Do you harass our underpaid teachers about their income? No? Why then do you think it’s ok to harass me?
- My job is to take risks and overcome obstacles. Yes, I will get hurt. I have been hurt before and it’s going to happen again. My job is to continue to take risks and when I get hurt, recover and keep taking risks. Do you ask construction workers what they are going to do when they can’t lift 50lbs or climb ladders anymore? And…Ok, I will give it to you. Do you want to talk rare scenario? Just like with any job there is a chance that I will get hurt one day and never be able to perform again…but, the same thing can happen at your job. What about when a typist trips and breaks their wrist and can never type again or when a scientist gets into a car accident and can’t concentrate ever again? This is not something that is solely existent in my career. IT HAPPENS IN EVERY CAREER. And, just like you, when I get to that point…I will reevaluate.
- When you do something every day, you keep your body use to what you are doing. I work with a numerous amount of people in their 50’s that still operate like they are 20. It’s the same idea in careers that require a sharp mind. As long as a surgeon stays in their field and continues to practice their skill, their mind will remain sharp and their hands steady.
- Every year I have worked my income has gone up. Just because you think there isn’t money in this line of work, doesn’t mean there isn’t. Just like every other career line there is an obvious path to more lucrative positions. It is each individual person’s decision whether they want to move up that path or not.
- And finally…I love my job. I don’t have any fancy statistic, but I have been around enough people to know that many people HATE their job. If you forget everything I’ve written before this point, this still makes it all worth it. To still be excited every day to go to work, to not dread returning after vacation, to not count down the hours while at work…well, that’s more than point enough to justify what I am doing.
In summation. Leave me and my performer friends alone. I perform and will continue to perform. Get over it.
Zachary K Miller