20something profile: Kate
I graduated in 2008 with a degree in Theatre and dreams of becoming a highly respected director. I count myself lucky because my mother was always nothing but supportive. My father admitted to me that he thought I would never, ever find a job.
Like so many before me, I made it to graduation and had no clue what my next step would be. But, I truly believe that sometimes the universe aligns the way it should, because by July the middle school in my hometown was in need of a Drama teacher — and guess who had a minor in Education? Score! I was gainfully employed and even had health insurance. I thought my life was set.
Skip to a few years later: I finally feel like I have the whole teaching thing figured out, but I decide to apply to graduate programs in directing. I don’t get in anywhere. Apparently, competitive directing programs need more than a few successful middle school musicals to guarantee your brilliance as a director.
I found myself at a crossroads. I had job security. I lived in a college town, so I could always pursue a master’s degree in Education to up my pay grade. And I was using my degree, so shouldn’t I just be happy and forget about it? The answer turned out to be no.
I needed to venture out on my own and give this whole directing thing a real chance. So, I packed up my small town Mississippi apartment and moved for a new job with a mid-sized theatre in Chicago. Strike that, a new apprenticeship. (They call it an apprenticeship, but it’s really an internship. Bottom line: I don’t get paid.)
Sometimes, I can’t believe I would leave a salaried position for the great unknown in a city that I had never been to before I arrived with my U-Haul. Some people say it was brave, but maybe they are just too afraid to call me stupid to my face.
I’ve actually thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the theatre, and I’ve been able to make money to pay all my bills (most of the time). But, I’ve had to start over completely. Sure, I had a few friends who were already living in Chicago and working in the theatre, but I’ve also had to put myself out there in order to make new contacts.
Oh, and I haven’t actually directed anything yet, but I try not to let this get me down. It hasn’t even been a full year yet. What does get me down are my fellow apprentices (interns). They are all 22, 23, maybe 24, while I’m steadily approaching my 28th birthday. That’s late twenties no matter how you slice it! My biggest fear is that I’ve waited too long to give the whole ‘being an artist’ thing a try.
I am constantly doubting myself, but the good news is most other 20-somethings are doing the exact same thing. (Please, tell me they are!) So, it doesn’t matter that I’m almost 28 and still figuring these things out. People make it work all the time; I’ve actually met people who are making it work. I can be an artist and feel fulfilled creatively, and I can make a living. Anyway, that’s what I keep telling myself.