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BWW Blog: Finding Outside Inspiration While Inside your Head

BWW Blog: Finding Outside Inspiration While Inside your Head

Being in such a concentrated environment as a conservatory program (not to mention in a city school), it is nearly impossible to escape the pressures and emotions that come with being a musical theatre or dance major. If you're not in class you're at an audition or a rehearsal, you're at home practicing a scene for class or watching a documentary on theatre history. No matter what you're doing, it somehow relates to the career path you've chosen. And sometimes it's more than enough, and you feel you want to drop this crazy career completely and get a "normal" job.

Burnout is real, and it wasn't something I fully understood until not too long ago when I almost abandoned theatre myself and became a psych major. I was so consumed with the rejection I was getting at every audition both in school and outside of school, leading me to not feel qualified enough to be successful in this industry. I had no other outlets to get me away from that or keep my passion healthy. I got so inside my head and was telling myself that since I was failing now that I was going to fail for the rest of my life since I was not as talented at anything else. Once I thought about it more, I realized I had never really explored any possible passions outside of performing. All I ever wanted to do was dance and perform and I had simply neglected to try anything else.

I knew I needed to change something because I would be losing a majority of who I am if I gave up performing. I wasn't going to pick up a baseball bat or a paintbrush, but I wanted a minor escape from the craziness of my career. A small activity that I found that really helped was reaching out to my friends from high school who were not actors or dancers. I had lost touch with some of them when we went off to school as our schedules just became too different, but reaching out to them through texting, social media and getting together over school breaks allowed me into their lives a bit. Hearing what it's like to be an economics or English major was really refreshing and broadened my knowledge. I also became invested in professional sports (I sit here as a Patriots fan the right after the Eagles won the Super Bowl so you can imagine how I'm feeling right now), and simply taking drop-in ballet classes at a studio in Chicago and surrounding myself with a New Group of people. The theatre world is so small but so big at the same time, and I often forget how many more people will come into our lives when we graduate and audition for jobs all over the country. Surrounding yourself with as many people as possible now is the best way to adjust to that when you audition post-graduation.

In terms of hobbies, I fell back in love with reading, which is something I neglected as soon as I got a smartphone. I also work a part-time job as a hostess at an upscale restaurant, where my presentational and communication skills from being a theatre major come in very handy and I have made friends with the other employees. I've also expanded my interests in TV shows and movies (thanks Netflix!). After sending in video auditions for summer stock theatres and subbing dance classes last year, I really started to enjoy creating choreography, and in return it has made me a smarter dancer when picking up someone else's choreography.

The changes were not drastic, but expanding my interests to things other than performing and to new groups of people saved me from ditching the career I've wanted and trained for my entire life. It also taught me how much theatre has made me who I am, and it was a relief I didn't quit it entirely. Everyone needs a break after a while no matter how strong your passion is, and my advice to any current theatre major is to find that outside joy now. You have that passion for theatre and it will never go away, and finding something else will just bring more joy and excitement into your heart that you can share with others.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Jenna Napolitano

Jenna is a current junior at Roosevelt University-Chicago College of Performing Arts. She is pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre with Dance Concentration and is (read more...)

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