To Sell Out (v): to betray one's cause or associates especially for personal gain
The Merriam Webster definition makes selling out sound terrible, almost as if the phrase is only used for kicking one’s family to the curb in a time of need or when an “associate” betrays a mafia boss. However, we also commonly use “sell out” to describe a musician one is disappointed in, US senators, and people around our age who decide to give up on their dream of selling artisanal chocolate covered, beer-braised bacon out of a tiny shop in Williamsburg and go into finance.
Despite all of the negative connotations, I am one of those kids who really want to sell out.
Trying to get into an industry where luck is a major part of “making it,” I often wonder why I’m doing this in the first place: long hours of auditions and rehearsals, emotional and physical exhaustion, having to “chase my tail” like I’m a dog (I wrote the play I had to do that in, so fuck you, Past Claris), listening to complaints from my parents after coming to a show (“Claris, who allowed that show to be on stage? It’s awful!” “I don’t know, mom, I’m not in charge of that.”) and- everyone’s favorite– tech week. Whenever I come home feeling exhausted and defeated, I often dream of throwing away what little I have, buying an LSAT prep book, and becoming a lawyer. Even though I’ll still be exhausted and end up hating mankind, at least I’ll have an income, right?
And hasn't Penn taught us that money maters?
There’s generally an unfair stigma attached to selling out , though. We all have different priorities, and different circumstances, and not all of us have the luxury to pursue our non-profitable dreams. Some have to take that finance job to, well, improve finances. Others can’t become a full time baker because their families disapprove severely. Others just really want to work at that marketing firm. In an ideal world, everyone would have lofty goals and be allowed to pursue those lofty goals. But, newsflash– the world we live in is pretty far from ideal.
Personally, I am very well aware that chances are, I will not be the first female Sherlock Holmes on TV. But I also know that if I don’t at least try and give it my all for a couple years, crazily chasing this elusive dream of being a working actor, I won’t ever be able to stop thinking about it.
However, there’s something really impressive about a person who realizes that the thing that they’re really passionate about are not something they can make a living through, and instead make the difficult choice to pursue a more lucrative career. Because, no matter what anyone says, that cannot be an easy choice to make. It takes a lot of self evaluation, courage, and sacrifice to wipe off your clown makeup, peel off your oversized shoes, and throw out your juggling balls to commit to a lifetime of corporate culture.
Also, who’s to say that following your dreams and morals isn’t acting in one’s self interest? With my circumstances, I could have been anything in the world, and I want to be an actor? Isn’t that absolutely insane? Instead of making any real changes in the world and saving lives, the most I can do is pretend to be someone who is making real changes in the world and saving lives. Sure, one day, I might inspire someone and convince them to pursue the career of a character I once portrayed, but what are the chances of that ever happening? Theatre and acting are very important to me, and I think, very important to the world as well, but I would be lying if I said that I was only doing it to tell others’ stories. I also do it becomes I like it and it brings me joy- if that’s not acting in one’s self interest, what is?
Thirty years from now, what will you regret more? Not pursuing your dreams— or having taken “the easy way out?”
We're college kids; we can't pretend to know our futures. But I imagine that if I start studying for the LSATs now, that thirty years from now, I’ll stay awake in bed thinking, "What if I juggled for a little longer? Maybe I would have been the best clown there ever was.”