What’s a “Real” Job In Your Thirties?

Continuing along Jane’s career topic from the last post, I have a “what the heck is a “real” job anyway?” story from this weekend.

So I was working in Vegas for the past few days- doing my “real job” of being a self-employed presenter and product specialist at tradeshows, conventions, events and autoshows. For the past three years or so, I’ve thought of this as my ‘real job.’ There are three reasons for this:

  1. I do this job full time.
  2. I enjoy doing this job
  3. I make money from doing this job- in fact, I make just about all of my full time income from this job.

The reason I’ve only considered this my real job prior to the last 3 years, even though I’ve been doing the same thing for more than 9 years, is because I used to consider my real job:

1.PASSIONATE THEATRE DIRECTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE. OCCASIONAL VERY PASSIONATE ACTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE.

I stopped considering theater jobs as my “real job” for one very simple reason:

  1. I don’t make money from doing those jobs.

*At least not close to enough money to support myself and my formerly six figure student loan (now down to an impressive 5 figures! Woot!)

However, while working the convention this weekend, an attendee said to me in a confidential whisper, “so, what’s your ‘real’ job?

I informed him that this was, in fact, my real job. That I do this full time in differing aspects.

He wouldn’t accept my answer. He kept pushing for what my ‘real job’ really was. I attempted to explain to him that I’m building up my current job to do even more in the field of presenting. He wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t believe me. He was sure I was holding back.

I mentioned that I’m entrepreneurial and have multiple side projects, some of which are online. I even attempted to explain some of the side projects. None of this information satisfied him.

Now, at this point, I was looking for an escape route, or at least a way to get back to work and end the conversation.

Finally, I said, “Ok, I direct theater. I’m an actor. I have a theater company”

THIS answer he accepted. “I ‘KNEW IT!” he shouted. “You have a real job after all!”

And after talking my ear off for a few more minutes, and attempting to get my card, he finally went on his merry way, leaving me slightly more annoyed than before he arrived.

I guess some people just have an idea in their head of what a ‘real’ job is.  Being an ‘Actor,’ whether it makes you any money or not, is a ‘job’ that people understand. I always thought acting was the thing people kind of made fun of because a lot of the time ‘actors ‘ end up serving you in restaurants. But I guess the “real job” title of “Actor” is glamorous in it’s own way, even when it’s not.

I could’ve said “pursuing acting left me in abject poverty. Directing theater took up so much of my time that I couldn’t make money working other jobs that actually paid. I made such little money as a theater director that there was no way I could buy a weekly Metrocard, never mind pay my rent from the sad stipends I received. This “real job” that you don’t consider a real job saved my financial life.”

But I feel like he would’ve just said some platitude like, “Keep smiling, kid. Live your dreams. ”

So I simply let him walk away in ignorant bliss. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

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