ASK MARIA: How Can I Become an Adult Without Sacrificing My Dreams?

Dear Maria (Count Me In), 

I graduated acting school and lived in New York City, but despite how glamorous that phrase appears it was really a struggle.

I felt like an outcast at school and debated everyday whether I was the worst or mediocre at school. New York City broke my heart seeing my friends living off food stamps and working multiple horrid jobs at a time just to live in a place where gentrification and excessive luxury obsessed culture overshadows art were highly abundant. 

I'm back in my hometown in D.C. working to save money to move out to L.A. 

Although I'm aware L.A. is no better than New York City, but in some aspects it is better (in terms of diversity, affordable living, etc.).

However lately I've felt anxious and deeply unmotivated to pursue my acting career. All I worry about is financial security for myself in the future, whether a career in a field that is notoriously erratic is sensible, and how scary it is that there's nothing else in the world that I'm adequate enough to fall back on.

I need advice on how to sort out my life and find a way to be a stable adult.


Dearest Gaby,

The other day, I was watching a film on Netflix called Liberal Arts. There was a quote that caught my attention. It was "Nobody feels like an adult. It's the worlds dirty secret."

That's the thing. Screw adulthood! You don't have to feel like a stable adult, but here's the thing: you will become one. You'll figure out taxes and relationships and bills and credit scores and jobs. It'll come. But you should never, and I mean NEVER, pressure yourself to 'become a stable adult.' You are who you are and your age doesn't have to define you. You'll learn more and more as you grow older and you'll become wiser, but you don't have to change everything about your life to adjust to society's expectations. People may judge you, but it's probably because they settled for a boring ass life just for "financial security" and they're jealous. 

In terms of going for a career in the arts, it's obviously not the easiest thing in the world. You probably knew that in high school. I know the feeling. "You have a back up plan? That doesn't pay very well. Wait, what? It's going to be hard to find a job in that field." But you knew that, and you continued to go to school for it. So what's the point on giving up now?

You may never walk the red carpet at the Oscars, but maybe you will. Either way, do what you fucking love. You might have to have a part-time job for a while to pay the bills, but keep going out to auditions and keep soaking up the opportunities around you. That's the best part about living in LA or NYC, despite the gentrification and work ethic you need to have due to high rent. 

Do community theater. Go to every open audition in the area. Amp up your resume. Take amazing headshots. Sign up for every acting site and email EVERYONE your headshot and resume. You really gotta throw yourself out there. That's what I do! And don't limit yourself to just acting. Most artists are multi-faceted and sometimes, one art form works out more than the other. For me, writing is what worked out first. Yet I love acting, music, theatre, directing, business, photography, public relations, fashion, video games and so much more. I would love to do something regarding all of those things in the future, but in order to do that, I needed to get my foot in the door of the art world first. 

I really relate to your story. I lived in both NYC and LA within the past few years and sometimes I feel super unmotivated, too. Sometimes I just want to crawl into bed and play video games until I pass out. It's totally normal to feel that way. Yet you can't let it get to you. Everyone eventually learns how to properly "become an adult," but you don't have to give up your childlike wonder, your dreams, your hope, and your personality to do that. Stressing over something that's going to happen is ridiculous. 

So move to LA. Get a part-time job that gets you enough money for the essentials. Then make time for yourself, your dreams, your well-being. Everything will work out if you keep pushing. I promise.

With love,
Maria Elena

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