Performing Professional

     It is always so hard to me to define the word 'Professional' as it applies to myself. What's the dictionary definition of 'Professional'? Relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill. So "A Professional" would simply be someone who participates in a job that requires special education, training or skill.

     But we've come to only equate Professional with "Monkeymaking." So despite 10 years in Professional Theatre, I don't always think of myself, or the Theatre that I work in, as "Professional." I mean, my Theatre is a Non-Profit Entity. My Troupe is a Not-For-Profit entity. So now much money do I see in these ventures? Approximately none. So how hard is it for me to remember that these are, in fact, Professional Endeavours and not Community Theatre/Performance Groups? EXTREMELY Difficult To Remember.

     So whenever anyone tries to include me in Professional-Level Theatre Happenings, I swear I must look like I'm lying about how long I've been doing this. I have tons of information, I am completely knowledgeable and can communicate confidently and effectively- but my recognition of my position is almost non-existent. I have to be reminded that I can do these things, otherwise they just stay locked in my head. It translates to strangers, I'm sure, and it most likely translates as just a general reluctance to discuss my "jobs" or "positions" within my organization. It's infuriating that I can't seem to get past it.

     Since when did we equate Professionalism purely with what we get out of it? I am a part of raising thousands of dollars for charity every year. I help a Non-Profit Business stay afloat, now into its tenth year. It doesn't buy me a house in the suburbs and a nice hybrid SUV, but it is fulfilling, I am working in my field and occasionally I make a connection that helps me move up in the world.
It makes me angry that because people can't see the monetary benefit that I get from my endeavours, they make me feel like I'm just playing around, just playacting in a Theatre. I worked hard and earned a degree in my field (I technically earned two degrees since at my University I had to take a full load of Communications classes along with the Theatre Concentration- hello extra useful!) and I am putting it to use.

     So the other weekend when I was participating in a Statewide Theatre Conference and a guy I'd just met said "You'll be at the Professional Division Meeting tomorrow, right?" I was in just a little bit of shock before I creaked out (you should hear my creaky voice when I'm at a loss for words) "Um yeah, sure I was planning on it. Absolutely." Not having ANY idea that there even WAS a Professional Division Meeting I had to DIVE for my Program when I got through with my day and carve out a space for it. I'd FORGOTTEN I was a Professional. Despite also being a Guest Instructor at the Conference.
I showed up to the Meeting the next day and it turned out only myself, that guy (who was the Chair it turns out) and another guy were the only three who made it. So I basically admitted to them, "This is a Deep End Bath for me, ya'll" and just listened to them, offered information when asked questions about my Theatre Company's needs and strengths and basically just for the FIRST TIME EVER felt like an actual Theatre Professional.

     Basically my point here is this, I can't be the only person who doesn't feel like a Professional in their own field. For whatever reason, no matter what that field might be. It isn't an Imposter Syndrome feeling, it is a literal lack of awareness of the fact that we're "There." Like, "I'm here, I AM a Professional, I do the job every day. I'm not still trying to get there, I AM there."
Because when I realise I'm there, I'm competent and fulfilled and whatever else it is that REALLY makes me know that this is what I'm supposed to do. But I'm always there, whether I realise it or not, and if I were just to reach out and understand that, I could be all those things all the time.

     For anyone else who works for less money, or no money, or works for less notoriety, or no notoriety- compared to others in your field- hear me out. I guarantee writing this blog won't entirely fix my problem. I'll need to be reminded constantly for a while that I am a Professional. But as it stands right now, this is YOUR reminder that you are a Professional. Come back and read this any time you need to, the entire post or just this last paragraph. You're doing it, you're there. Keep reminding yourself that even if you don't see a dime from it, if it is making money for someone, you're not a hobbyist. You are a Professional, and you rock.