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There are three things that are most important to me as a career coach to changemakers:
You must do things in your life that you love, even if you don’t get paid for them
Anything that you love can be used to make a positive difference in the world
As a career coach, I must live the life that I’ve designed to model that it can be done
I have always loved to act. Like many kids, I fantasized being on TV and being the star of the show. I practiced emoting in front of the mirror. I often acted out dialogue from books I read. As I got older, I joined the drama club in high school and minored in theater in college. I briefly thought about going professional but although I loved acting, I hated rejection, so I just hit “pause” on those dreams.
However, when looking for a place to settle in and buy a home, I found a place with a community theater. It took me a while to get back into acting, but I started auditioning and getting cast and tapping back into that joy.
I love acting because it helps me to be more empathetic. I have to figure out why someone would say certain words or act in a specific way. I try to get into the head of the playwright to understand their message and what they wanted the world to know.
I also enjoy how collaborative theater is. All the actors are dependent on each other. We learn to trust, to give feedback, and to build on each others’ efforts. There is a bond when working with other people who love their craft so much that they dedicate hours of time without any financial compensation.
Theater can be a very powerful tool for social change. It can make people think and feel in ways that movies, books, and TV shows can’t. And although theater can be strictly entertaining, I gravitate toward theater that challenges, questions, and provokes. If that can be done with laughter, all the better!
That’s why I’m thrilled to be cast in the play Perfect Arrangement at Greenbelt Arts Center, my local community theater. It’s a comedy about one of the least talked about, most destructive government policies of American history.
Set in the 1950s, Perfect Arrangement chronicles the beginning of the Lavender Scare, the purging of “social deviants” from the State Department, gays, lesbians, and anyone with morals that differed from the confining, conservative constructs of that time.
Being gay meant that people were forced to live an inauthentic life. Being fired from the government or being gay meant that people were outed, humiliated, and branded by the thousands. Many lives were lost to suicide, addiction, and despair.
It was also the beginning of the gay rights movement, leading to marriage equality and more widespread acceptance. And this has led to another backlash and new, similar programs targeting the transgender community.
Acting in this play gives me the opportunity to do what I love, raise awareness about my country’s history, and spark a conversation about oppression and the transformation that can spring from darkness. I hope that my past, present, and future clients find ways to design their future so they can do the same, in a way that feeds and fits them.
This is what the phrase “Be the change you want to see in the world” means to me. It is how I try to live my life, every day.
I want to challenge you think about how you can make a difference in the world in a way that you love. How can you use your own unique gifts and talents to serve a cause you believe in?
And if you’re in the Washington DC area, come see one of the funniest, thought-provoking, and historical plays I’ve ever come across, let alone acted in! Running the entire month of February, including a Q&A on Sunday February 17. Get your tickets here: http://greenbeltartscenter.org/