Woe Is Me! “My Family Won’t Let Me Pursue My Passion. What Do I Do?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I am pursuing a B. Ed, but I have no interest in teaching in school. I discovered last year that I want to learn acting, and I really want to perform before the camera. I have always wanted to do something creative, but choosing the way of doing that took time. The problem is my family doesn’t even think about it. I told my mother twice but she didn’t respond positively. I live in a small town where there is not a single acting institute, only some theatres and small-scale classes but my family doesn’t want me to join those classes. This puts me in a difficult situation. I thought if I had a job first, then I can easily take acting classes. But I can’t concentrate on my studies [to be a teacher] for the job. What should I do now?”
— The ultimate catch-22
DR: Well, as I’m sure you’re aware, nepotism happens to be a thing in India. And so, I think your decision to get a job before you start taking acting classes seems like a smart one. I’d suggest you finish your degree while getting some form of training on the down low. You can keep an eye out for casting calls online, in the meantime. Once you complete your degree, land a job, and can afford to pay for your acting classes, you should join the classes you mentioned. Then, you could either tell your parents to keep their opinions to themselves or, if you’d like to avoid blatantly opposing them, simply tell them it’s a hobby you like being engaged in. Alternatively, you could also try to look for a job in a bigger city with better avenues to sharpen your skills — like Bombay, perhaps? In that case, your parents needn’t even know what you’re up to during your non-working hours. No matter what you decide, though, I hope you’re simultaneously preparing yourself for a career that’s difficult to get a break in.
QG: A lot of people can give you a variety of advice but at the end of the day, when it comes to something as crucial as your career, you have to do what you think works best for you. And no one will know exactly what that entails except for you. But, here’s some perspective that you can mull over when you’re thinking of the pros and cons of what you want to pursue: Glamorous and enticing as the world of acting looks, we all know of the massive pitfalls it has in place. If you’re thinking of changing your career, you have to make an informed decision so do your research and truly look at the hurdles you have in place to achieve your goals. That being said, we’re all tied down by a million norms in this society which stop us from really doing what we want to. You should, by all means, rise above that and do exactly what you want to. Dive headfirst into it. Give it your all. But I would suggest also being a bit practical about it. Approach this with meticulous thought. You should think of backup options in case acting doesn’t work out. If teaching isn’t appealing to you, look at other things you can pursue- something that you feel a genuine interest in.
And when it comes to your family not letting you pursue something, you should ideally sit with them and try to make them understand just where you’re coming from. To have your family’s support when you’re pursuing something is a source of incomparable support. However, if they still seem unsupportive, you have to really ask yourself what matters more to you at that point of time- your family’s approval or your passion. Let me assure you that there’s no wrong answer in this- just a decision, albeit a difficult one.
You have some tough decisions ahead of you. Take some time off and really think about all of it. But, until then here’s the most important image on the internet to lighten your mood.
PR: Hi, fellow aspiring artist, I completely get the struggle of choosing a creative profession in an Indian household that predominantly gives horrible career advice and has no idea what the world looks like from our perspective. I would recommend looking at writing jobs or production jobs where you get to explore creativity and find a way to take acting lessons on the side. You can finish the course you’re doing and look for writing jobs in cities where you might find acting lessons as well (Delhi/Mumbai).
Other than that, coming from someone who has had to fight with their parents for almost three years while working with friends on small film projects, I would say there is hope. Because now, they have ended up supporting my career choices.
RN: My response to this is based solely on the fact that it’s just been a year since you discovered this new passion. It’s a great thing to find something you love, and there’s arguably nothing more nourishing for the soul. But I’d first suggest looking closely at your passion first — what made you want to pursue acting so badly? Is it coming from a place of wanting to feel lost in a story or a character and perform? You said you want to perform “in front of a camera” and that gives me pause — is this really about acting, or is it about aspiring to a certain image? If you’re really keen on acting, why not try theatre? It’s a space that gives you an opportunity to actually hone your skills, understand your limitations, and hone your craft in a way that doesn’t involve as much of the darkness associated with trying to make it big in the movies. Which is not to say that it’s not a worthy goal to have. You should absolutely pursue your dream — but just be strategic about it. I would hate so sound exactly like your family — but while they’re wrong in dismissing your passion, they’re right in wanting you to have security. Play your cards right and maybe, you can have both.