I’ve been reading (audio) books by actors of late. It started with How to American: An Immigrants Guide to Disappointing Your Parents, by Jimmy O. Yang. It was so good I finished in two days. (I laughed so hard, I don’t recommend listening in public.) It made me fall in love with America all over again. If you don’t read it, I feel sorry for you. Next, I listened to The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, by Jenna Fischer. I loved it.
I have no plans of becoming an actor, but she mentioned it on the Office Ladies podcast, and it sounded like useful information regardless. It turned out to be fascinating. I learned a lot, and it led to thoughts about defining success, how to recognize it, gather it, and how to continue growing despite it. Since it means something different to each person, I think Jenna Fischer did a brilliant job of conveying her journey in a manner easily translated to alternate paths.
I loved hearing it in her voice, too. The authors narrate these books, (and when the reader is an actor, it’s excellent.) I mean. Duh. They’re professional storytellers. Damn. I just typed the obvious. I laughed a lot with this book, too. (I should probably make a rule about listening to podcasts and audiobooks by funny people in public.) I’m currently more than halfway through reading The Bassoon King: Art, Idiocy, and Other Sordid Tales from the Band Room, by Rainn Wilson.
I like Rainn Wilson even more than Dwight Schrute. I saw him on Mom recently playing a therapist. He was great in that, too. After reading about how these actors struggled when building their careers, I remember a moment of feeling retro alarmed. In all three books, they emphasized the significance of seeking out opportunities in areas that correspond to your strengths. I thought back to when I joined the Army, and how I chose my MOS (military occupational specialty.)
Before joining, everyone takes the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test. It’s a tool you can use to help choose your job. I scored well overall, so I picked a job that would help me improve in the area I scored lowest, not a job that required skills I already possessed. To me, it was the most obvious thing in the world. And I just found out it’s probably the opposite of what most would decide. Whoops.
Fortunately, I got to learn some amazing stuff I had no idea even existed. I also got to help pioneer a new job opened for women in the Army (my ego still appreciates that bit.) Unfortunately, I loved the training and theory but felt no passion for the job, which mattered because it led to my getting into shenanigans with tearful consequences out of boredom. So I went back to training and did it again.
The second area entailed nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare training. (sings, hated it.) I decided if there’s ever a nuclear explosion, to run toward the flash. I don’t even want to talk about the other two. Guess what? I went back and trained again. They called me The Educated Soldier at one point because I was continually going on TDY for school. It did help me figure out I was destined to be a chairborne warrior, though. Anything with a computer was my eventual specialty. Heh.
I don’t regret taking the scenic route. Skill-building does lovely things for my self-esteem. I love being more capable than people expect. I think one of the coolest things I learned is there are all sorts of ways to be intelligent, and most of them don’t include what they claimed in classrooms as kids. I met soldiers who could talk to engines the way I talk to computers. They awed me; (aside from that time, they sent me out to fill all the tires on the tracked vehicles.) I’m off to continue my book. 💜✌🏽