A balanced life is defined as achieving optimal health in every aspect of your life including work and personal life. Unfortunately while working in this industry the personal life often comes to a grinding halt. It’s no secret that I have always chosen my work life above almost all else. This is a personal choice, obviously not one everyone makes. So what does that “balanced life” look like to someone who chooses work life first and how do the other aspects fall into order behind the priority? While this particular article is an inside look at how I rank them, that clearly won’t be how everyone else puts them in order and no one can make that decision for you. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into how each aspect of life is affected by this industry.
Starting with the obvious one: your work life. To get anywhere in this industry it is widely accepted that you have to put work first. There have been several things that I have missed out on due to putting my work first, and I accept that. There are also people that I don’t get to talk to nearly as often as I would like because I travel so often for work and don’t have the same time off as most others in my friends and family circle. To compensate for this, most of the people I work with become close friends while on the road, and for the most part we get along. The long extended hours that we all pull together help keep that bond, and the after-work drinks help as well. Keeping in touch with family and friends who aren’t part of the industry continues to be a challenge though, but most of them are understanding of the fact that I love what I do for a living and how long I have strived to be where I’m at in my career.
On the road, the crew you work with practically becomes a second family. This by no means replaces your blood relatives and some people place more emphasis on needing this aspect. I still talk to my family as well, but in all reality, they don’t have a clue as to what goes on out here and it’s nice having a close bond with people who do understand. That’s why I would put family life as fairly important and higher ranking. Family can be chosen as well and I get family time with my work family. At the most recent festival I worked at, we were all so close that one of the technicians noticed all of us having a rough week of tech rehearsals and made waffles the next morning. That’s pretty akin to having breakfast on the porch of your parent’s house in this industry. Just like family, you also get dragged into family drama. We know each other’s ups and downs, what everyone is going through, and struggling with, why this person isn’t talking to this person at the minute, etc. It can be just as exhausting as any blood-related family.
I personally keep my personal life separate from family life and work life. My boss at work doesn’t need to know what I get up to while I’m not on the clock and my family doesn’t get to see certain sides of me (would you really want to run into your parents while heavily drunk on the road?). This is why I don’t consider family life part of my personal life. What you do in your downtime is entirely your business, except when you’re in this industry. Being on the road with a crew means you get pretty close. So close, that you practically know each other’s habits and time clocks by heart. I know my boss will always be ten minutes late to get in at a venue because he can’t function around people who aren’t part of the crew without coffee, and I know one of the dancers is consistently half an hour early to the venue so she can have the dressing room to herself to meditate. You learn each other, and pretty quickly. That means all your habits that you like to do to relax before/after work, they’re going to know about those too. It’s not because of other people learning it that I tend to put my personal life as one of the last priorities, but instead, I see it as I know how much alone time and social time I need and want. I regulate both sides of it at my own pace.
Any person who has been working in this industry for any point in time, you know the struggle of attempting to date while working. Let’s be honest, your regular date nights are obliterated. The weekends are when you work and asking someone to go to dinner on a Tuesday is underwhelming. So I put my romantic life last once I got into this industry. I sacrificed dates for more work time and personal time, and that is a decision I can both live with and stand by. When I have gone on dates and I try to tell people about my job, I get some expected questions like So you’re a singer/dancer/performer (No)? Can you get me backstage (No)? Can you introduce me to the casting director (I’ve never even met them)? Do you get autographs all the time (No, only sometimes)? Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met (Probably someone who isn’t famous to you because you like the actors/actresses, not the behind-the-scenes people)? And many more… Dating is hard. To begin with, now it’s expected that I either meet someone in some random town that I’m not going to visit again anytime soon while on the road or I meet someone at work and have rumours spread like wildfire about how I actually got my job. No thanks.
Everyone in this industry balances the aspects of their lives differently. Some families back home understand that the touring life takes them far away, and some have companies that will bring their families out on the road with them. They spend time splitting it between life on the road and time off at home. Some people tour with their romantic partners and do what is called a “couples contract”. Some people just go with the flow and make the best of their experiences and time on the road while getting lots of personal time. The balance that you currently have can change during the course of your career. Figuring out what is best for yourself is part of being in this industry, and your priorities can change during that time. All options are valid because we all need different things for ourselves.