Epiphanies can come from very unexpected places. A recent one came courtesy of Meetup.com, a website that enables groups of like minded people to get together and do interesting activities.
During my recent four months in Germany, it occurred to me that a site like Meetup could be a good way to, well, meet people. The showbiz people I was working with were thoroughly pleasant, but I also wanted to hang out with people interested in business, technology, industrial design, science, and all the other things I was into.
So I hit Meetup.com, made an account, and signed up to about 20 different groups. I was taking the shotgun approach; throw a whole bunch of options out there, in the hope that at least one will produce results. And they did! All kinds of group event invites started to flow in. Dinners, drinks, talks, Ignite events... plenty of things that sounded interesting to check out.
And I couldn't go to any of them. Every single one was happening when I was working.
That was when it really hit me that performer hours are the exact inverse of office work hours. Evenings and weekends - most people's leisure time - are exactly when I had gigs to do. A show each night, plus matinees on Saturday and Sunday. The only free time overlap was on Monday nights, and that's not exactly prime social time for most people.
After literally about a hundred non-attendable events in a row had hit my inbox, I left the meetup groups and thought hard about my career path. Clearly a full time performance schedule was going to limit my social life in a way that I wasn't happy with.
Luckily that's not the only way to have a profitable and successful showbiz career. There are higher paying one-off private and corporate gigs, short full-time production runs, media and advertising projects, teaching, consulting, merchandising, and all kinds of profitable work that still allow for a balanced personal life.
I would still be happy to do the occasional intense full-time run of shows, but would never want to do it on a permanent ongoing basis. This also means that I have absolutely no desire to ever have my own big Vegas show. It would be amazing, but for me personally the costs would never be worth it.
It was quite a liberating realisation, all thanks to a brief experience with a social meetup website. Epiphanies really can come from the most unexpected places.
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