I work a lot with young people, deciding what to do when they leave school/college. The majority of these are performing arts students. When I am talking to them about their future plans, I hear this phrase multiple times every session:
“I really want to be a dancer, that is my absolute passion but I think I am going to do history at university so that I’ve got a backup – like a plan B.”
This phrase really bothers me for the following reasons:
- The fact that a history degree is rated so much higher than a performing arts degree is a problem in my eyes. I will challenge anyone to tell me what skills that you learn from a history degree that you do not learn from doing a degree in acting. In fact, communication skills, presentation skills, social skills, interpersonal skills are all traits that an employer would actively seek, not how well you can quote a book from the 1800’s. Now, I am not criticising degree choices because of course, I am hugely biased but I just struggle with the notion that a more academic degree makes you more employable, because I wholeheartedly disagree.
- Young people are setting themselves up for failure, and I questions where this has come from. When I first started out doing performing arts, I was told a lot that I would really struggle to find a job and that it was going to be very difficult for me if I chose that career path. To be given a negative at such a young age just sets a young person up for failure. We should be encouraging young people to follow their dreams, because if you are told that you will not make it, it is unlikely that you will try.
My advice would be:
Try plan A first. Give it everything, give it absolutely everything that you have and dream really big. People will always try to push your dream big, so start really big and then when they inevitably push you down, it is still big.
Then, if plan A falls flat, come up with a plan B. Maybe in the same industry or if you want to totally change direction, go for that too! However, let plan A pan out first, because if you spend half your time going for plan A and half your time coming up with a back up plan, you aren’t putting everything into plan A.
Dream big, and who knows, it might happen.