As a young man, I was briefly considering a career as an actor. The worst advice I think I was given during this period was: “make sure you have something to fall back on”. This is advice that I’m sure many of you heard during your youth and it can basically be translated into “Go to university or college kid and get a job.” I went into Journalism and then transferred to English before finally settling into a job at a music store at $9.50 an hour. At least I had something to fall back on. Retail!
Admittedly, while I think advising teenagers to finish High School is sound advice I think rushing kids into post-secondary education is nothing less than a colossal mistake. This is especially true if they are expressing an interest in an alternative activity. It makes way more sense to pursue arts, entrepreneurial efforts, or philanthropic world saving projects when you are young and willing to tolerate an income at the poverty line.
My advice to anyone in a similar situation now would be: The best way to do anything is to launch yourself into it. The lessons learned undertaking these activities will be incredibly useful even if you only try it for a year or two. Move on to something else if it doesn’t work out. There is no rule that says you have to complete University in your 20’s. I almost feel there should be a rule against it.
I was 30 when I went back to school to complete my fourth year. I ended up getting a Masters degree. My attitude had shifted completely and I got way more out of the experience the second time around. It was also fun to basically have an extension of my twenties (which seems to be continuing post-graduation).
Also the only way you will ever make it at anything is to try it and dedicate yourself towards the activity. While people occasionally get lucky and stumble into success, it is way better to create your own luck. This takes a tremendous amount of work and I feel certain that after a year of investing this kind of time and effort into a project, like making it as an actor in New York, school will seem much easier.
In the end, I got bored with acting. By the end of third year I realized I was losing interest in it even as a hobby. Nonetheless I would not have been harmed in any way by actually trying to make a go of it when I was 18. I think I would have actually been much better off.