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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why Giving Up On My Dream Actually Feels Pretty Damn Good

This is a very personal post, but I wanted to open up...

Several years ago, I quit smoking. The thing that finally made the difference for me, after multiple "tries" was making up my mind 100%. Before, when I "tried" to quit, I always knew in the back of my mind that I'd smoke again. The only question was when the cravings would be "bad enough" for me to give in. Once I absolutely decided to quit, I still had cravings ... but my mind was no longer at war with itself. I didn't have to debate or make decisions because I'd already made it.

All my life, I've had one great passion: theatre. And my greatest fantasy has always been to star in a Broadway musical (or play). But to quote from Follies, "heck, I'd even play the maid..."

Even though I never truly pursued a theatre career, I kept telling myself that I would some day. It's one thing to not actively chase your dream. It's another thing to admit to yourself "I will never achieve this." It's a grieving process.

But just like with quitting smoking, making up my mind has made it so much easier to move on. I'm still not a professional actor — but now I'm not saying I should be and loathing myself because I'm not. I'm a non-professional by choice, not because of laziness or failure.

Me as Grace Farrell in Annie — wearing a vintage hat
that influenced my desire to be a milliner.

I found a journal of mine from late 2007, in which I constantly wrote about how much I wanted to be a professional actor ... or do something else creative. But I didn't know what that was. Since then, I discovered hat-making. And everything just clicked.

I love millinery. Do I love it as much as theatre? Almost. Not quite, but almost. And one nice thing about millinery is that it doesn't have to be separate from theatre. I've made hats for The Pirates of Penzance and Born Yesterday. I love the millinery I see on stage and in movies/TV.

Sure, if I had a magic wand, I'd still choose to be a Broadway actress. But I'd rather be doing shows in community theatre than not performing at all because I'm being rejected from professional gigs. I've also realized that my personality isn't suited to the competitiveness and constant rejection of a professional actor's life.

Plus, there's this:
"Rachel's childhood ambition was to become an actress and this developed into a keen interest in theatre costume. It is from this sense of the dramatic ... that Rachel's passion for millinery has evolved."
I found that while reading the web site of Rachel Trevor-Morgan, one of Britain's most successful milliners (whose creations have been worn by the Queen, among others). I could do worse than to follow in her footsteps!

A 1940s-inspired fedora that allowed me to fulfill
my love of vintage styles. (This piece already sold.)

I am currently taking a break from even the community theatre productions that swallow my time so that I can really focus on my business. It feels good to have made the decision. I feel a new-found sense of peace. I am no longer a wannabe actor; I am an actual milliner.

So, on the whole, I'd say giving up on my dream feels pretty damn good. (Oh, and do I now dream about my hats appearing on Broadway or TV/movies? Hell yes!)