Expanding Abundance in the Midst of a Contracted Economy
There was a time in my life when the dream career of drama therapy seemed unattainable and completely unrealistic. I didn’t even have a name for it then, but I knew that theater methods had healing power, and I wanted to bring that healing to others. However the reality was that I had to pay the rent.
As theater majors in college, a friend and I dreamed and planned to create a theater company focused on social justice and community building. But post-graduation found me working in non-profit marketing by day (for very low wages) and stage managing by night (for free or a small stipend.) This was the late 1980’s – when arts funding plummeted, and even in the twin cities, I watched one theater after another close the doors for good.
Eventually I moved on to a more profitable job waiting tables, then to office jobs because I needed health insurance. I was in scarcity.
I was also not very happy in how I was spending my time 40 hours a week. So I started looking for something else. Given that a career in drama therapy was unrealistic (or so I thought at the time), I started a graduate program in organizational development. This was sort of like drama therapy, and we had a great community of OD professionals in the twin cities. I mostly fit in.
But something kept tugging at me. I knew I was not following my heart. I was avoiding what I really loved. I grew up thinking that work was a chore I had to do to make a living. I needed to trust my wisdom enough to choose work in the place that brings me joy.
But, as I learned in my youth, people in theater-related careers are poor – right? Social workers – they didn’t seem to have a very fun job, and they didn’t seem to make much money – right? When I later learned about drama therapy, I was told that drama therapists don’t get respect – right?
As I was considering a career change to become a drama therapist, I overheard a friend talking about someone she knew. The conversation was marveling over how financially successful this person was in his career as an artist. My friend said, “He didn’t know that artists were supposed to be poor.”
I began to ponder what it might be if I did not believe that following my heart would leave me in a place of ambiguity and poverty. I made a decision that if I were going to follow this road to become a drama therapist, I had to find a way to see it as an abundant career.
When I started on the path, I thought abundance was a destination, but I discovered it to be a companion on my journey. Each new turn requires me to expand into the places where I hold myself back, the places where I fear to go. Each step requires me to trust myself and to appreciate the gifts, many of them small, that are around me. Gifts that once would have gone unnoticed – or even may have once been pushed away. Some of these gifts challenge me to grow and stretch in uncomfortable ways.
Connecting with abundance meant noticing my anxieties and restrictions, and growing beyond them, not always an easy task, but one that resulted in a happier and more beautiful life for me. It meant learning some very basic financial management skills. It meant finding gratitude for what I have, and making choices about what I am willing to give up in order to expand. And it meant listening to my wisdom and strength – instead of listening to others’ projections and expectations. I’m still learning.
I’m amazed at the many unexpected gifts that appear when I’m connected with my enoughness, generosity and gratitude.
I’m now a drama therapist, and few of the people I encounter have heard of this career. This means I get to talk about what I do and the work I so enjoy. It creates opportunity to connect with people who get excited about healing through creativity and play.
In looking for respect, I found that the letters after my name or the school where I graduated do not matter for long. In the end, it is about how well I do the work I do. And when I focus on that, instead of how other professionals perceive me, doors open.
I hear on the news daily about the constricting economy and job losses. Yet amidst this, there are possibilities. For those of you reading this, I can’t advise you on how to find abundance, as we each have different gifts and touch our abundance, and our barriers, in different ways. I challenge you to be open, and not be limited by others’ thoughts, or even your own. I encourage you to expand your restrictions, to see what you have, to value who you are and what you have to give – especially where your gifts are unique.
As a drama therapist, I have something unusual to offer, and this a source of abundance.
Nadya Trytan, RDT/BCT is a Drama Therapist practicing the twin cities (Minnesota).