(Warning: this is a really long post)
I am aware that being "an actress in LA" sounds glamorous. It used to sound that way to me too, before I realized that LA actresses were a dime a dozen. WORKING actresses are far less common.
I recently reconnected with some high school buddies and acquaintances. Some of these people also happen to be elementary schoolmates, so I've known some of these folks since I was 10 years old. They've known ME since I was 10 years old. Tall, skinny, and awkward with long hair and (later) braces. We are getting together over the holidays for an impromptu reunion and I'm really excited. I am anxious to see them, see who looks the same and who looks very different, see what paths their lives have taken. We are sharing pictures and swapping email addresses and website urls. I am impressed by the jobs that some of them have. Stuff I could/would NEVER DO in a zillion years. ("Engineer what? Excuse me?") And, it seems, that they are very impressed by mine. Actress. In Hollywood.
I say "Thank you." graciously and sincerely. I have put a LOT of work into this career and intend to keep doing so. I won't lie--it's nice for that to be acknowledged. But with equal sincerity I have to say that my path is no greater than anyone else's. The key is to do what you love. If you are an engineer, a rocket scientist, or an actress, and you HATE what you do, that's not a good thing. If you scrub the streets with a toothbrush and you are HAPPY, then you are blessed beyond compare. You can't go wrong if you are doing something that brings you happiness. As long as it doesn't hurt or cause harm to anyone else, it's all good.
I am an artist and have been an artist since before I realized it. Back when I thought "artist" was a title reserved for people who knew how to draw really well. Now I know that artists come in a myriad of forms - we are just regular people who see (and embrace) God in the mundane. I have heard it said that "the devil is in the details" but I believe that God lives in the details. I love the details. Learning to examine them. Just yesterday I was thinking that it is WONDERFUL that I, as an actress, can study all sorts of things and they will strengthen my instrument (myself), and inform my work, Plus I can put some of it on my resume and i will make me more marketable. That's like the cherry on top. I think it's important to keep learning in order to not become stagnant. Some actors feel like they need to be in acting class all the time. Good for them. I don't share that opinion. I think there is a season for everything--a season to study and a season to practice. Then when I've gone as far as I can go on my own, I can go study some more. That's how I feel right now with regard to my acting. It's time to go back to class. So in January I plan to be back in acting class, soaking up knowledge like a sponge because I want to be the BEST actress that I can possibly be. I'm anxious to make some things happen in 2008.
I saw an actor acquaintance of mine today. He's pretty well-known (I don't want to say who it is b/c I don't want to hear that I'm name-dropping or any mess like that) but it was good to see him. He is doing his thing, and I see him on TV on a regular basis. i mean BIG time. I am very happy for him. Very. And when I see him on TV, I get happy because I know it's possible to start from nothing (or very little) and make a living in a career where people say it's "tough", "impossible", "competitive", and many other buzzwords. At the rate of sounding hokey, I will say anything is possible. Anything. You just have to be willing to listen to your inner voice above the voices of anyone else. You have to believe, not only that alchemy is possible, but that it happens every day if you will it so. I once had a (beloved) boyfriend tell me that I was "no different from the other working stiffs all over the world [who got up and went to] jobs that they hate" because their bills need to get paid. I was highly offended. That was completely and utterly unacceptable to my sensibilities. I refused to accept that way of life. Refuse(d) to accept that God brought me in this world to be miserable. Refuse(d) to accept unhappiness as "normal". Would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. I wasn't above working at a job I wasn't particularly happy with for a little while in order to finance my bigger picture, but I knew I wouldn't be there long-term.
I'm getting sleepy, so I'd better wrap this up: The moral of the story is this: learn from others, but question everything, and ultimately, go with your gut. Find a way to do what makes you happy. Don't take "no" or "you can't" as an answer. Learn as much as you can about anything that interests you. And above all: LIVE ON PURPOSE. What's the alternative?