Friday, December 10, 2010

Take your Breaks

"Embrace your breaks" was a lesson that one of my professors tried very hard to teach me in college, and it is one I constantly try to learn, and one that I constantly struggle with.
In this business, he would explain to me, there will be times when things are insane, when you go weeks working 15 or 18 hour days, hardly see your friends or family, and don't even have time to clean your home, do laundry or cook a decent meal.
There will be other times when you have nothing to do, no pressing concerns and no upcoming deadlines. You have a choice in the down times. You can let them stress you out, spending all of your time trying to find projects, worrying over small details; or you can relax. Take the time off to do things you have been missing. Make time to hang out with friends, sleep in, cultivate your interests outside theatre, enjoy life.
I find myself feeling guilty because I know other people are working. My boyfriend leaves for work at 6:45 every morning. When I am in one of my busy periods I tend to leave with him, or soon after. Today I slept in until 8:15 and I was feeling horribly guilty about it. I should have been doing something with that time, right?
The truth is no. From the beginning of September through the third week of November I worked my butt off. I opened 8 shows in 10 weeks, hardly saw my friends and family, ate most of my meals on the run and worked until 10pm most nights. Sleeping in is exactly what I should have been doing. And if I slept until noon that still would be okay (though I don't think my body would let me do it). This business asks a lot from you and takes a lot out of you during the crunch times. If you don't embrace the down times you will burn out.
I worked with someone in the summer of 2006 who predicted my burn-out. "There's no way you keep going like this," he told me, "you are going to burn-out hardcore. I give you five years tops." There have been times I have worried he was right. There have been times when I kept going just to prove him wrong (which I admit is silly, I doubt he even remembers the conversation), and there are times like this morning when I know he was right. Not that I am planning on quitting, but times when I realize it's not that I can't keep going and have a long and successful life in the theatre; it's that I can't keep going like this. I have to take my downtime. Find ways to relax. Spend time with my family and friends. Embrace the things that are important to me outside of work. Sleep in if I feel like it. The crunch times will come again soon enough.

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