Tuesday, March 27, 2012

176. NYU: Alternate Universe

"If it is just financial security you crave, that can be achieved at any level. If it is recognition you desire, learn to give that to yourself. If it is for the joy of doing your profession...then keep working at it, being confident that you will have plenty of opportunities to practice your trade as you rise through the ranks." - Peter Pamela Rose

"Riches come, if they come at all, in response to definite demands, based upon the application of definite principles, and not by chance or luck." - Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Yesterday was a very...um....overwhelming day. It's a lot to wrap my brain around and I'm still processing it all...And in the interest of transparency...I'll share some of it with you.

At work yesterday, the HR department had a financial planning advisor come in and meet with each employee individually to talk about the company savings plan and investing for retirement.

(Yes, I know it's Madison Avenue...And it's an office job...And it's not what I've DREAMED of doing...It's not ACTING. But I consider myself EXTREMELY fortunate because I do work for one of the greatest companies in the world. They take care of their employees like NO OTHER. They're constantly surpassing my expectations in that respect. I am blessed. Without the financial support of this day-job, I never would have been able to have the time/energy/wherewithall to invest in this blog.)

So, anyway...I've got my appointment with this financial advisor. And we're sitting in front of his laptop and he's got my personal retirement savings plan account up on his screen. And he says, "So if you keep doing exactly what you're doing now...and if you were to stay with this company until you were 65...and you kept investing 9% of your pay...with the company's matching program...plus pension...plus ya da, ya da and this and that...Would you like to see how much money you'll have in the bank come retirement?"

And he clicks this "CALCULATE" button on the screen. And the little chart starts to populate and a number pops up at the bottom of the screen.


I don't remember exactly what the number was...But that was the ballpark.

That would be TWO MILLION DOLLARS, folks.


Here's some context: In the house I grew up in...I'd be lucky to have TWO DOLLARS in my pocket...TWENTY DOLLARS felt like RICHES. So...to me...the idea...that I, Virginia, could EVER actually have TWO MILLION DOLLARS in the bank is TOTALLY INSANE.

My brain can hardly accept this as real. It's gotta be fake right? That's a fake number. LOL!

Nope. Real. I could actually (someday) have a two million dollar retirement fund. Easy.

One catch though...

All I'd have to do to be assured a comfy retirement nest-egg of two million dollars...is stay right where I am for the next 35 years. 

"Perhaps the hardest linear process to let go of is the accounting part of the mind that links the amount of money you have in the bank to what is possible. Get rid of this limiting process, be practical but don't base your goals and commitments on something as powerless as money. Practice seeing money as an energy and play with increasing that energy instead of counting dollars." - Lena Stevens, The Power Path

I like my job okay....but it's not what I want to do with my LIFE. And it's waaaaaay overwhelming to even consider staying in it for the next 35 years...because I really, really, really, really want to be an actor.

But here I am...looking at my number...my two million dollars number. And my commitment to my calling is being very blatantly tested.

I am asking myself...What do you REALLY value, Virginia? What is REALLY your priority?

How much do you actually want to be an actor for a living? Is there a dollar amount that you'd be willing to trade in for your dreams? If being a professional actor meant you had to give up two million dollars, would you still do it?

This is a real dilemma. It's real risk. It's personal. It's not fake. This is my actual life...not a hypothetical situation.

DO I REALLY WANT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR if I can retire with two million dollars by being an office monkey?


Ugggggh....I could be happy having acting be my hobby, right? I mean...two million dollars is a lot of money...(rationalization, rationalization)...Think of all the good I could do with two million dollars...(my brain is f r e a k i n g o u t)

Huh. Um. Errr...Cannot deal with this right now psychologically...

And well... I guess I don't really have to think about that right now anyway...(thank goodness!)...'cause it's not like I got accepted into grad school this year. So I can just put off having to consider choosing a two million dollar pay-off vs. having the life of an actor. Whew!!!

Cut to:
Later on that day...

I am sitting at my computer working on the blog (Jeremy Rishe Interview Part Three)...and my phone rings.

212 number that I don't recognize.

I answer.

"Hello? This is Virginia."

"Hi Virginia. This is Janet Zarish from NYU. How are you?"

(My brain....WTF? What is happening right now?)

V: "Hi Janet. I'm great. How are you?"

J: "Oh, I'm good... You must be wondering why I'm calling. Just wanted to let you know that we've already selected everyone for our MFA class for this year..."

Whah-whah.... :-(

J: "But every year we also select up to four alternates.... These are actors that we LOVE and that we'd like to be able to fit into the class, if...in the case anyone in the currently accepted class decides that they cannot attend the program after all....This year we've selected two alternates. We'd like you to be one of them. Would that be something you'd be interested in?"


V: "Me? Interested? Sure!!! So...wait a minute...Let me get this straight...If someone drops out before classes begin, then...potentially...you'd call me and I'd be accepted into the program as an alternate? And this isn't the 200-people-alternate-list, right?...There's only two of us?"

J: "Yes."

V: (Gulp)..."Does that ever actually happen? Do people actually drop out after being accepted to NYU Grad Acting?"

J: "It certainly doesn't happen every year, but it does occasionally. So there's a chance, but there's really no guarantee...because all the students have already accepted their offers and have committed themselves to the program.... But you never know... Life happens, plans change, people sometimes decide to move in a different direction. We've even had people drop out the day before class begins."

(Oh dear lord...I'd hope to have at least two weeks notice.)

V: "I see...Well, I guess it's really up to the Universe now, isn't it? I mean, if I'm meant to be in the program then a spot will open up for me, I suppose...And if not...Well, I just want to go on the record saying that I love the program and I think what you guys do changes actors lives and I support it whole-heartedly...And I will continue to support the program whether it works out for me this year or not."

J: "Awwww...And that shows what a sweet person you are, Virginia."

V: "Thanks, Janet...I really mean it."

J: "I know you do. That's why we love you."

V: "Well, thanks for calling. You've got my number. If you need me, you know where to find me. Please feel free to call any time!"

J: "Thank you. And if I don't get to talk with you soon...I want to personally wish you a wonderful year full of creative growth."

V: "Thank you, Janet!!! That's so kind of you. Thank you so much for calling . I'm really honored to be an alternate. Thank you so much. Bye."

J: "Bye, Virginia."


OMG. WTF. What is my life right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????

"Acknowledge that there is much more going on at a greater level than what you can track in your mind. Be at peace, don't worry, trust your committed intentions, and don't believe everything you see or hear, especially when it has been determined by another's calculations of the rational mind. Everyone will be trying to make sense of what they can't make sense of." - Lena Stevens, The Power Path

Wait a minute.

Wait a minute.


Remember earlier...My unanswered question...."How much do you actually want to be an actor for a living? If being a professional actor meant you had to give up two million dollars, would you still do it?"...

Oh my.

Guess I am going to have to think about that one after all.

"Beware of the mind trying to convince you that you have it as good as it gets, or that it is too hard at this point to make changes, or that you cannot afford it, or that you do not have the power or energy or wisdom to accomplish it on your own. Thank your mind for sharing, don't give in, and follow your intuition." - Lena Stevens, The Power Path

Happy to have a dilemma though.

I know it'll all work out the way it's supposed to...I am sooooooo not in control of any of this...CLEARLY.

All I can do now...is wait for my story to unfold.


"Whenever something doesn't work out the way you thought it would, instead of thinking that something went wrong, see it as something that went unexpectedly well, but for reasons that are not yet apparent. Everything plays in your favor." - Mike Dooley, Tut's Universe


  1. OMG!! Congrats!!

    I've been following you for a while now and I'm so glad to hear this, gives one hope!

    I know exactly how you feel as I am currently an alternate for Yale. And I've been waiting to hear for a month now, and I've gotten to the point where hope was fading.. but to hear your news!!! that's fantastic!

    Letting the universe do it's thing is hard...

  2. IMHO, letting the universe do it's thing means that faith in God is nonexsitent in your belief that grad school is within your grasp. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So I say keep the faith and God will be faithful. Congratulations and please keep us updated as I know your blogging deadline is just around the corner.