It’s hard to be discouraged. A lot of people freelance in lieu of the present economy and while one freelance gig can make you feel like you won the lottery, the little dry spells between jobs can quickly turn into discouraging ever-expanding deserts.
I find there are lots of dry spells for the average artist – especially when you’re starting out. It’s easy to feel like nothing’s happening. One show ended and you weren’t cast in their follow up show, or the webisode you’re set to film is held up in funding and can’t start shooting ’til October. You end up with all this time on your hands and you don’t know what to do with yourself.
You start watching all the episodes of Desperate Housewives and contemplate reading Fifty Shades of Grey (to see what all the fuss is about) or going to the Midnight showing of Magic Mike (to make a fuss over Matthew McConaughey). Brothers and sisters, do yourself a solid and take a deep breath. You can have that guilty pleasure glass of wine, but please don’t drink the whole bottle (leave that to the women on The Bachelor – Yes, I know you’ve contemplated watching that, too).
I’ve recently been introduced to the analogy of the tree in winter. You know: the tree that looks like it’s pathetic and dead with no hope of a future. Well life’s deserts are similar. It seems as though all the freelance jobs have dried up. Our lives look empty, unproductive and dead like that winter tree. Our futures are so uncertain and we start to wonder if we’ll ever get to do something exciting, live, travel, go on an adventure (find another freelance gig … !).
But, at the end of winter when you’re sure that tree is a goner and you want to chop it down … the tree sprouts leaves. The tree has been alive and at work all along. The same thing goes for life’s deserts. At the end of a long wait when you think your career is dead, you get that phone call that takes you to the next string of freelance gigs.
All I can say is: Look alive, people. Stop keeping up with the Kardashians and reading Amazon reviews of Twilight (I’m just talking about myself now … !). Hone your skills and develop new ones. Have you always wanted to learn to paint or dance? Do it. Need to brush up on your tech and computer skills? Take a quick class. I keep saying I’ll learn to play the piano (what better time than now – when ample time is the only thing knocking on my door!). This is the opportunity to keep working on and improving yourself so when opportunity calls you’ll have your boom box and hip hop dance routine ready.
This also serves us morally. Sometimes we’re in the spotlight – be it career or social. But sometimes we’re transitioning between work and friends and that’s the time to develop ourselves characteristically so that we’re kinder employees and more encouraging to our homies.
I guess I’m saying let’s stop being afraid of the dry seasons. There’s room for growth, especially when life’s maturing and advancing isn’t happening as quickly or as noticeably as we’d like it to. … Seriously, put the copy of 50 Shades down. (You’ll thank me later).
Jana (it rhymes with “banana” or “anna”) is an artist from Clarksville, Maryland. Growing up her parents always told her to “be whatever you want to be.” Seeing as she has come from three generations of doctors, she obviously became an artist. As an actor, she has performed internationally Off-Broadway, and locally to the Baltimore/DC area. Favorite roles include Juliet, Ariel, and Caliban. Jana is the Founder of Red Connect Online, a social media marketing company that creates customized advertising campaigns for small businesses. You can listen to her podcast, Confessions of a Closet Christian, on the E-Squared Media Network. You can also follow her on Twitter (@Jana_Stambaugh) and friend her on Facebook.