Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Appreciating Our Day Jobs While Pursuing Acting

Oh where to begin.... I felt inspired to write a post about things I actually enjoy about my day job the other morning when taking pics of my lipstick choice of the day to post to Instagram. Posting these pics reminds of how much I love makeup. Makeup I would probably not have (errr..couldn't afford) if I didn't work at a cosmetics counter. Taking pics of all my different color choices also reminds of how much fun makeup is and that I am lucky I get to spend 20 hours a week playing with it while getting paid.

Often when I write about my job, I am writing because I'm frustrated that I still have to work a survival job when all I want to do is act. And although I am so thankful to God for my job, I definitely have days in which it is extremely hard to feel that way. So I thought I would do a post pointing out the good things and the benefits I've earned. Maybe it will inspire you to do the same.

To start, there is nothing as fulfilling and fun to me as acting. That is the only thing I will pursue as a career and I will always refer to my survival job as a survival job, or day job, because it will never be something I plan on falling back on. I don't have anything to fall back on. Acting is it for me. So many days, it is a pain to get up and get ready work. Especially if the day before I was on set all day. I have days when I feel very down being at work; wondering when I am going to be able to leave because I am finally pulling in some decent money acting. Some days, it takes a lot to push through, even if I'm only there for a few hours.

But, not all days are bad. And there are definite bright spots. Some days are actually fun. And the other day, as the store opened, I remembered there was actually a time where getting a job at a cosmetics counter in a department store was a dream of mine. Not a grand dream like acting as always been, but I always dreamed that being a cosmetics girl would be my job while I pursue acting. I forgot all about that dream. It was nice to reflect upon it this morning and realize that it has come true. You see, I have always worked in retail, mostly at department stores. Since I was in high school actually. I would always look at the cosmetics girls as if they were the cheerleaders of those stores. You know, the coolest and most popular ones there, which during my school years I was far from. Also, I had started playing with makeup as a kid, as well as studied art all through school. I was quite good actually at painting and drawing (sometimes I feel the urge to pick it up again), so working in cosmetics seemed liked a natural fit for me. I worked in retail for about 7-8 years before I got a job in cosmetics. (The first brand I ever worked was Clinique, if anyone is curious).  Wow I feel old thinking about how long ago that was!! I won't even mention how long I've been doing makeup now but it's been awhile.

The point is sometimes I forget the reasons that brought me to work at my particular survival job in the first place. There are also many reasons I choose to stay.

Here is the list of the things I truly appreciate about my job:

1) I get to play with makeup while being paid for it and it's for a brand that I absolutely love YSL. In fact, there is only one other line I love as much and that's NARS.

2) Working where I do enables me to easily keep up with trends. To me, being an actress goes hand-in-hand with fashion.

3) I get to make people feel beautiful.

4) Pretty flexible scheduling. Usually there is someone able to switch shifts with me if need be. Also, I am sure to do scheduling favors for my manager when I can so she will be more understanding if I have something come up. That's a great tip actually. Always have a good attitude and do your best to do what the job requires and those in authority will be more apt to give you what you want.

5) Being in NYC, I work with the most diverse clientele possible. Meaning, I never know who I may meet. Perhaps a movie producer, a casting director, an agent? That I know of it hasn't happened yet, but that hope and possibility (daydream) is always with me.

6) Free makeup, free skincare, and discounts in other departments. One of my best purchases ever was a leather (err...pleather) dress that I bought for $4.00 using special employee coupons that can be used like cash within that particular store.

7) I've been there so long that I know how things work. I know when I can and can't afford to call out or be late. I know how to do my job well, or at least, on some days, well enough to get by without getting in trouble.

8) I rationalize that since acting is the only thing I want to do, I wouldn't be any happier working any other survival job than the one I work now.


9) This is the NUMBER ONE reason that I appreciate my survival job right now and do not plan on going anywhere else whilst I pursue acting (this also is because of how long I've been here): I have many many paid vacation days and personal days. For someone pursuing acting, that is priceless.
Loyalty to a company does pay off. Believe me, if I wanted to pursue a career in makeup, I would not stay at this location. I would want to be at a cute little boutique in Soho. But I want to be an actress. Therefore I stay and take advantage of these free days I get. I always have to think of the big picture.

I know more than anyone how depressing it can be to do any other work besides what you truly love and want to be known for and be successful at. I am not telling you to stay at a job where you are miserable; not at all. You must always follow your heart. I am just telling you to weigh your options as it pertains to being able to fully pursue acting. I heard someone at my job recently say "this job is a means to get what you want." It's so true and to hear it put in those exact words really lifted me up that day and made me want to keep pushing. There must some things you like about your survival job; whatever job that may be. Like some of things in my list, it may not be about the job itself, or your position, or it's location. It may be more about what the job provides you in regards to pursuing your acting: flexibility, benefits, sick days, and, uh, hello, money for all those actor things. And if you are so completely miserable every single day, and can't find any moments of joy here and there, AND it's so bad that you can't stay focused on your dreams, then maybe look for something else. If you feel you have no other day job options at the moment, then turn that despair into determination to become a more successful actor. I have to do that at times and it absolutely makes me work doubly hard towards getting that next acting job.

BTW, this isn't a recommendation to work in retail. A lot of the advantages I have at this job are only because I have stuck with it for so long. Just starting out things wouldn't be that flexible. What this post IS is a recommendation to keep in mind the good things--however menial and hard to see they may be--that you get out of your survival job and to work them to your advantage in every way possible when it comes to pursuing your acting career.

                  Me in Work Mode


  1. This is a great post! It inspires me to work harder towards my dreams!

    1. Thanks Carrie!! Glad it inspired you! Feel free to post a link to your blog!