My career seems to be at a dead end. For years I've been training as an actor
and struggling to get my first break, but every time I come close to a
significant role something goes wrong and I miss out. I have tried every avenue
I can think of, including changing agents, but it hasn't gotten me anywhere. I
am professional, hard-working, dedicated and I believe I have talent (this has
been confirmed to me by others too). But I am starting to think I simply wasn't
meant to be an actor. Should I just come to terms with being a failure?
My friend, there is only one thing you need to come to terms with. You are
not an actor. You may be good at acting, but that is not who you are--it's what
you do. Stop identifying yourself by your career. You need to discover an
identity that is beyond your work. That way, success and failure in your career
will not spell success or failure in your life.
In our world of inverted values, a man is called successful because he has
made a lot of money. He may have abandoned his third wife, be estranged from his
children, have no friends and his dog ran away from him. But he's done well at
his "career," and people say, "I wish I had his luck."
We achieve true success when we succeed in our relationships. If you are a
caring friend in times of need, if you treat your parents well, if you are a
supportive and understanding spouse, a devoted and caring parent, then you are a
success. Those who contribute to the community, not just money but time and
effort, those who have developed happy relationships with G‑d and man, they are
real success stories.
As long as we identify ourselves with our profession - I am an actor, a sales
person, an IT technician - then we are pinning our success as a person on our
career success. But it's not true. We are not defined by our job. What we do to
make a living is different to what we do to make a life. We work to make a
living. But to make a life we must love, connect, serve a purpose and find
This is the gift of Shabbat. One day a week we step out of our workday roles
and return to our true self. We are not staff members of a company of but rather
members of a community; we are not employers or employees but rather brothers
and sisters, children, parents and friends. We are not working for a boss to do
our job, but rather working for The Boss to fulfill our mission.
You may be great at doing your job. Or maybe not. But it's more important to
be good at being human. When it comes to being human, also a failed businessman
can be the greatest success story, and a struggling actor can be a star.