My acting career seems to be at a dead end. Every time I come close to a huge role something goes wrong and I miss out. I have tried every avenue I can think of, even changing agents, but it hasn't helped. 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 is 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 work, 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 meaning.
This is the gift of Shabbos. One day a week we step out of our workday roles and return to our true self. We are not staff members 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 work. Or maybe not. But it's more important to be good at being human. When it comes to being human, even a failed businessman can be the greatest success story, and a struggling actor can be a star.