When Is It Time To Give Up On The Dream?

By Earnest Harris, Manager, Harris Management

There are probably a hundred familiar quotes that strive to inspire us to stay the course on our goals and dreams no matter what.

“Positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in life, so never give up on yourself.”

“There is no substitute for hard work. Never give up. Never stop believing. Never stop fighting.”

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.”

And that is all great, except it isn’t as easy as reading or saying those words, especially when you have family members, friends, and financial responsibilities clamoring for you to throw in the towel with all this “dreaming” about Hollywood stardom, and get to the normal world of 9 to 5 and a “regular job.”

The truth is percentage-wise, very few people of the many thousands driving around with headshots on the backseat of their cars, are going to make it big in the business and become a household name or recognizable face. It’s a long shot by any measurement.

And while few will question you for giving it a shot, and going for the gold, surely there has to be a time when going for it has run its course and it’s time to swallow the hard pill of reality that stardom is not in the cards. And by the way, this is not measured by age, either. Because you can be in your 20’s, going through the grind for a few years, and hit the wall of reality.

So how do you know your time is up, and when do you throw in the proverbial towel, and make plans to find another line of work?

The answer is you don’t know on either question. That’s because to me, you never give up on a dream. You may have to adjust the dream but you don’t ever completely give up on it. It’s certainly true that only a few lucky ones will become stars, win that Oscar or be a Steven Spielberg-level director.

But I hope you purpose isn’t fame and fortune. If it is, I suspect you will give up fairly soon anyway. But if your dream or goal is to work in the business, to make great art, to work, then there is no time limit on that success. It can happen after many years when you are in a phase of your craft that is just right for the right role or hiring. And there is no way to know when that will happen. The truth is though, success, the kind that allows you to live comfortably and support yourself from the acting or filmmaking, may never happen. But does that mean, you give up?

Each of us has to make that choice for ourselves based on our own personal situations. By the way, never let others make that choice for you, since they don’t have to live your life. But what I am saying is, what I hope is true for you, is that as long as you go for what you know in your heart is your dream, and are willing to accept that it may not turn out exactly as you hope, then there is no harm in staying the course. There are a lot of ways to support oneself, while continuing to keep the dream or the passion going. Not everyone is going to make a living at this. But do it for the love of the arts and you can’t be wrong. Besides, I fully believe, it is our definition of success that is the problem, not the dream. Success is measured in more ways than money and fame. Having the courage to follow your dream and stick with it, is also success in my book.

Here is another one of those sayings for you:

“Never give up, which is the lesson I learned from boxing. As soon as you learn to never give up, you have to learn the power and wisdom of unconditional surrender, and that one doesn’t cancel out the other; they just exist as contradictions. The wisdom of it comes as you get older.” -Kris Kristofferson

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