I think the worst thing about well-meaning but misguided advice is that it serves as a reminder of how few people understand who I am as a person–despite continually putting myself ‘out there’ artistically.
I haven’t been feeling all that humorous this month or capable of writing witty and upbeat things for you as I am currently in a position where I am once again having to look for a new job. It is a position I find to be particularly upsetting, stressful, and soul-crushing. It is also a position that attracts well-meaning advice like no other.
The unhelpful advice always falls into the same categories:
- ‘You should work for…’ and then they list several jobs that would be wonderful, obviously, but do not exist/are not attainable/are so desirable that they are done for free by 22 year-old interns. Gosh, I never thought of that! I should go knock on the door of that publishing house/famous museum/theatre and demand employment! Sorted!
- Emailing me really unsuitable and irrelevant job specs that are a high pay range and require random qualifications that I don’t even vaguely have (and are of no interest to me)–or that have clearly been generated by some robot agency and are fake. And then being like, ‘There are a TON of jobs out there.’ Are there? ARE THERE?!
- Telling me that I need to use my connections to get interviews and then offering no connections to me. Where are these mythical connections? I certainly don’t have any! I hate humans!
- Usefully denigrating my current job or the prospect of me working in a pub/restaurant again… because these things simply aren’t good enough for someone with a Masters degree… yet they don’t have any tangible alternative solutions for me. Helpful.
Then there are those with, I know, the best intentions who are making the attempt to relate to your interests as an artist but unknowingly end up being belittling and insulting. These are my two favourite reoccurring suggestions:
- ‘Well, you should go on The Voice/American Idol/Britain’s Got Talent.’ Oh. Okay. Sure. Good idea.
- ‘Why don’t you look into joining some sort of drama club in your area?’ Because I’m a fucking professional actor. That’s why.
I say all this with the understanding that people are just trying to help and be nice. This is why I politely smile and nod over and over again (for 15 years) while my insides shrivel up and die. I realise that they don’t know any better and that their advice could be well-aimed if I were a different, more normal person. But it’s all kind of like telling someone who is suffering from depression to ‘be happy’ (another one of my faves!).
So, just this once, I’m going to offer some of my own well-meaning advice (that I think can be applied to any artistic person you might know). If you really want to help me, please be supportive of the things that I value and take them seriously. For starters, read my writing and engage with it. Listen to my music and share it with other people. Spread the word and help me!
Life is too short to spend not doing the things you love and that give you purpose and meaning. I just hope I’m not too late.
I know I’m preaching to the choir here–so I’ll leave you angels with this amazing photo that the cat sitter sent me over Easter weekend of Edward and his beloved food. The best caption in comments wins a prize! (Okay so there’s no prize really–just the honour of my admiration.) Ready, set, make me laugh!
xWG // #dazeandweekes