Senior year of high school (2014-15) I prepared for my next year of life like any other average high schooler. I sent out a bunch of college applications and was accepted into every one of them. I wasn’t a 4.0 student but I had the above-average grades, well-rounded student with extracurriculars, know-exactly-what-to-say-when-kissing-ass-in-college-essays, doesn’t-hurt-that-I’m-a-minority part down. Though I knew all of this and was very confident in being able to attend any college I applied to, I had my eyes set on a particular one: UBC – The University of British Columbia. One of the top 30 colleges in the world, one of the top 3 in Canada. Applying everywhere with Film Production as my major, I received my acceptance letter in January. I was hyped. Super happy. Majorly excited. I was finally going to leave my small town, be independent, be on my own in a new country. Then I graduated HS. Updated my passport. Scheduled my classes. And I started getting bills. Fees. Well into the thousands, peaking past $100,000. I received no aid (they give most of it to their domestic students). With no other way to pay I took out a loan. Well, I started to. When they showed the interest fees and the estimated final cost I knew I wasn’t gonna make it. I would be deep in debt for the majority of my life. Unless I scored big right after college with an amazing job making hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because that happens so often, right? I took it as a sign. This isn’t what I was supposed to do. No other school interested me and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. So I dropped out. A month before I was supposed to be on a plane en route to BC I withdrew myself from all my classes, messaged my counselor, and officially declined their admission offer. No deferral.
I didn’t tell anyone for a while. I received refunds. I didn’t cry. I just felt empty, lost, but with a huge relief off my shoulders. But while I felt the world open up and realized I had more possibilities/opportunities, I still felt sad. Ashamed partly. All my life I had the college stigma imprinted on my brain. In order to be successful you have to go to college. I frowned upon those who failed to do so. Those who chose to enter the workforce immediately or “mooch” off their parents (as I thought at the time) jobless/education-less not providing anything to society as I saw it. But I finally understood. At least a little more. No, a lot more. My eyes opened. I went through the friends in my head who also weren’t attending college right after high school, if at all. Then I began imagining the circumstances. Unable to afford it, no transportation, family in immediate need of help, schoolwork not being their forte, having a college-less career in mind, going straight to help the family business (I grew up around a lot of farmers, people just working on the farm after HS isn’t strange). There are lots of reasons why people don’t go to college.
I was working at two jobs 70+ hours/week, first and second shift every day. I was working desperately to raise money for college. I was working factory jobs with no prior experience needed (you get trained for the work). Meaning no education past HS is required. Yet I was working with people who had their associate/bachelor’s/hell even Master’s degrees. If they took their education further than HS, why were they working the same job as me, an experience-less HS graduate who had been carrying around AP/IB textbooks. writing the school newspaper, and going to high school pep rallies just two months ago? This really was an eye-opener. Having a college education does not guarantee success. Just the same, you can be successful without a college degree. We’ve all seen them. The stay-at-home bloggers/vloggers/couponers, business starters, writers, entertainers, etc. who, just as college attenders, work for their success, and can sometimes even surpass them success-wise.
I posted the following to my Facebook. I knew it would come as a surprise to many as I was very vocal about my excitement for UBC. I didn’t want to be met with the, “So when do you head off?”, “How’s college?”, “Gained the freshman 15 yet?”, college-centric questions that though well-meaning frankly would upset me even if only a little.
I analyzed myself more-than-ever after dropping out. If I wasn’t going to college, what was I gonna do? Work obviously. I didn’t want to not be making money. But what did I really wanna do. How would I gain this money? What would I do with it? Would I just continue selling my soul to factory work? Hell no. I realized that the thing I enjoyed most in life is what I wanted to do for a living. And it did not require a college degree of any kind.
I want to act.
When I accidentally stumbled across the Drama Room sophomore year of high school I didn’t know I would end up loving everything I did in that room and would continue to do it for years afterward and plan on having it be my livelihood. But I ended up falling in love with monologues, new scripts, costumes, stage lights, the audiences, the programs, stage makeup, and getting to be different people and experiencing new emotions and things through these characters that I never would have before. Doing research for a part, making my characters different from me by changing my mannerisms; the way I walk, the way I talk, my facial expressions, it’s the most fun I can have. I get more of a thrill on an opening night than I do at any amusement park. I get more nervous for an audition than I do for a date. It makes me feel alive. Seeing people’s reactions when the quiet girl who hardly speaks to anyone can create such big characters on stage, being congratulated afterward, making an audience smile and laugh, it’s all what I love. And I know that acting is hard. Finding auditions, getting a part,making money (especially large sums enough to make a livelihood) off of it can be difficult. The majority of actors are extras/commercial actors with “real” jobs to help pay the bills. You have to be extremely talented or extremely lucky to be cast somewhere you can blow up and be widely successful. I know all of this. And I don’t mind if I’m living in some shady place working a part-time (most likely serving job) getting cast as an extra here and there sometimes getting paid. It’s what I like to do it’s what I want to do and it’s what I’m gonna do. I really can’t imagine my life any other way.
So I am currently working two jobs (different than the ones before, I’ve had around ten jobs in the past year but that’s a different story) saving up money to move away again. I have a nice amount already saved up but a good safety net/cushion is safest. I want as little payments as possible so I have scratched off the LA area as a possible moving place. A car would be necessary and we know the price of living is through the roof. Chicago is too close-by and frankly scary for me. So I plan on moving to Vancouver (where have we heard that before?). I plan on moving out early Fall. I’m saving up more money now and have to get my work papers in check. Pilot season is in the early months so I should be used to the city by then and somewhat know what I’m doing. I’ll keep you all updated.