Changeup

The changeup is a slow baseball pitch thrown to look like a fastball. It’s pitched to confuse the hell out of the batter.

Things have slowed down, and it’s hard. There’s not as many auditions, there’s not as many writing gigs. It’s hard to stay the course when it feels like the wind’s died in your sails. I thought I was doing well; things were lining up and I was knocking them down. I got my first paid acting gig. I got to travel, get my travel expenses paid for and got paid more for a day’s work than I usually make in a week (and if I’m being totally honest more than I usually make in a month). I got cast as a lead in two student films for a university film festival, and I was nominated for best actor. Now it’s two weeks later and nothing’s happened. I’d gotten myself convinced this would get me to the next step. I wasn’t sure what that next step was or what it really looked like, all I knew is it was better than this. And I knew it was coming. Then it didn’t.

I consistently fail to manage my expectations. Good things start happening and they get to my head; I start imagining my goals being only one more step away. Then things don’t pick up fast enough to match my daydream and I crash back down. When bad things start to happen, I’m sent into a tailspin. It’s already happened several times, and you’d think I’d have learned by now. I think the best lesson to be had from this is I don’t know nearly as much as I think I do. I’m in uncharted territory, and as much as I watch and listen to guys who do the kind of thing I’m trying to do, you can only learn so much from them. Words will only get you so far. The most important lessons I’ve learned came from the trenches. There was the day I taped the same audition a dozen times and still didn’t get the part. That day I learned that giving it your all isn’t always enough. Giving it everything you’ve got doesn’t mean you get what you want the first time. It’s when you give it your all every time, day in and day out, that eventually you get what you want. Doing your best puts you in the right spot when the lightning of opportunity strikes. That sounds like a stupid cliché but truth has a habit of coming out of things that make you roll your eyes.

You keep yourself ready for opportunity by working hard. I’m stuck in this tug of war between “I’m working too hard” and “I’m not working hard enough”. One usually comes to mind right after the other. When I’m sleeping five hours a night, I’m asking myself if I’m working too hard. When I go through a day without eating, I ask myself if I’m working too hard. Then I think of the time I spend with my friends, the days when I sleep in and I feel like I’m taking it easy. I feel like I’m slacking off, and that if I wanted it enough I’d be working harder. Because hard work is the key, and it feels like you’re never doing enough. I clock my hours when I’m working for money and writing for my day job. I’m putting 15 to 20 hours into my day job, and it doesn’t feel like enough. It’s obviously not enough. Most people put in 40+ hours into day jobs they hate. I’m already lucky to work from home, on my own schedule, in a way that allows me to pursue the career I actually want. The problem is I’m not putting enough time into the day job, and I’m not making enough. But then if I put more time into my day job, I have less time to work on auditions, to write my screenplay (the stereotype is real) or work on the short film I’m trying to finish. I don’t count the time I put into things that don’t pay. I’d probably go nuts.

I don’t know what the solution is. I’m still trying to figure this all out. What I know is that when the wind dies down, the oars have to come out, and you gotta row like a motherfucker.