The Importance of Being Earnest: Aside from the Witticisms of Oscar Wilde

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”

I often over-think interactions with others. I read into not only what’s said but also what goes unsaid. It’s something that acting has taught me to do –scratch beneath the surface. Usually, people aren’t going to come right out and tell you exactly what they’re thinking, and sometimes they’re not going to admit it to themselves. I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about being alive – the complexity of the human existence.

Especially in this day and age, with the bombardment and overt presence of social media, we’re even more careful with what we share with each other. There’s a veneer of happiness, without delving into what’s underneath the surface. We want information quickly, and we don’t want a lot of detail. This prevalence of insincerity is what makes genuine enthusiasm, or earnestness, important.

When you see it or hear it, it’s almost like striking gold. There’s this purity about someone who is earnestly wanting to do something or be something.  

It can also be a very tender thing for one to have earnest goals and intentions. There is a gentleness there that needs to be cultivated. I’d like to think that genuine intentions and interactions are rewarded — maybe not immediately or in the way that you initially expected. I think the majority of people want to help, and when you voice what your heart wants, or what your soul wants, people will do whatever they can to help you achieve that. I’m not saying that they’re going to just hand over the keys to the castle, but they may know someone who knows someone. No matter what industry or business you find yourself in, connections and networks are the keys to opening new doors. You still have to work hard and make the effort, but one of the things that links highly successful people is that they aren’t afraid to stop and ask someone else questions or have conversations. It is through those conversations, that the next steps start to form.

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Majors Don’t Matter

Unless you are going into some highly specified field, your major doesn’t matter. Even if you major in some highly specified major (medicine, rocket science, etc), it doesn’t disqualify you from pursuing something entirely different post graduation.

I have a BFA in Drama with an Emphasis in Acting from The University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!) This was the best decision I could have made.

Nevertheless, throughout my time at college and even in the real world, I’ve heard a lot of grief about my major:

“It’s not like it’s hard. My major is way more difficult.”

  1. Don’t test me because I will gladly go toe to toe with anyone on an academic test. Don’t assume that because I’m artistically inclined, I lack skills in other academic areas. One of the reasons I love acting is because it challenges me in ways that no other academic area ever did. There’s no right answers in acting. It’s a lot of opinion and learning how to navigate different opinions.
  2. It’s a different kind of hard. Don’t get me wrong. We put in late night cram sessions at the library. There were difficult tests and difficult papers. However, you aren’t just taxing your brain; you’re toying with your emotions. You’re reading scripts and learning the psychology behind the character and where that intertwines with your own. In this scene, you have to break down in tears. In this scene, you have to delve into the cruelty of humanity. In this scene, you have to be blinded with rage. How do you do that in a safe way? How do you do that in a convincing way? How do you do all that in one day?

“It’s not a real major. You don’t learn anything. I learned your entire major in one intro to acting class.”

  1. False. You learned the beginning. The beginning always seems easy. Learn your lines. Don’t stand with your back to the audience. You’ve just reached the tip of the iceberg. I took an intro to weather and climate class. Does that make me a meteorologist? No because that’s not how that works.
    I didn’t just learn how to be an actor, I learned how to run a business. A business of me. You have to make sure your product is working for you. How can you improve your business? How can you improve yourself? How do you kick-start your business?
  2. Besides focusing on the business of you, you also have to focus on the whole “you.” My major taught me to be a better person. We were encouraged to “feed our souls.” As much work as there is in creating a business, you have to find a balance. You have to take time for yourself. You have to find time to enjoy life. Go to a museum. Watch your favorite movie. Sit and look out at the stars. Go on an adventure. You have one life to live so - LIVE IT! There’s a time for work, but there also needs to be time to play. Be protective of this time. It’s just as important as work time.

“You can’t find a job in the ~ REAL WORLD ~ with that major.”

  1. False. You know what matters in the “real world”? Experience. Recommendations. How you sell yourself in an interview. You know who generally do a good job at selling themselves? Actors.

That all being said, people will still harbor pre-conceived notions. Those people that judged you in college still exist in the *R3aL W0rLd* They’re going to think that they’re better and more qualified because they sat in actual desks for most of their classes.

I went into a job interview once where the interviewer looked at my resume. Looked at me. Then said, “I don’t know why you’re here.”

This was a marketing position for a fiduciary company. The interview had been scheduled for me through a staffing firm. To be honest, I didn’t know why I was here either. I also didn’t know why you scheduled the interview without looking at my resume first, fiduciary dude.

Nevertheless, I smiled and said, “It’s clear that this company is on a fast-track to success, and I think it’s important to surround yourself with successful people.” I then proceeded to quote the website and point out my strengths and experience. I answered more questions. I asked my own questions. I gave a firm handshake and left. As I was driving home, I got a phone call offering me the position.

I turned it down.

I changed fiduciary dude’s mind. I showed him that as an arts major, I was perfectly qualified for the position. When faced with people with pre-conceived notions, the best you can do is change their mind. You’re going to have to prove yourself time and time again, but so will any other major.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you majored in. You can take classes in the real world to help develop other skills. You get experience. You continue to develop. Getting your diploma isn’t like flipping some magical switch. You aren’t suddenly an all-knowing adult who won’t make mistakes. You’re just starting out on your journey. You’re still learning. You’ll make mistakes.

If you’ve just graduated, you’ve accomplished a great deal up to this point. Celebrate your success! Take a moment to realize how far you’ve come. Now look forward and see how far you’ve got to go. What are your goals? What are your aspirations? What’s your first step to achieving them?

Hopefully, you’re degree gave you tools to achieve those first steps.

I know mine did.