How Life is Like A Balloon Contest

elgar boartRemember that “life is like a balloon contest” quote from Forrest Gump? Yes? Shame on you, because that’s not how the quote went. But while riding my bike back from my new temp job, I thought of the truth in that sentence. Not because I spend my days searching for metaphors to sound artificially clever with, but because I spend my days drowning my spirit in financial administration at a company where they recently held a balloon contest.

Every couple of days a tiny, usually torn piece of paper that was once tied to a balloon comes back all the way from Germany or Belgium or France, stating where the balloon was found. Hundreds of kids let loose a balloon a couple of weeks ago, and only a couple of balloons made it far, only a couple of the balloon notes find their way back to the Netherlands. And then it just occurred to me how my life currently is like that…

Obviously, this is not the brightest period of my life. After the TV show I was on finished, I had not found a job or house in Amsterdam yet so I had to go  back to living with my parents, after four years of living on my own. I had to go live in the small town I went to high school in, where none of my friends live anymore. I had to go live far from my boyfriend. I had to settle for an income almost a quarter lower than on my last job. So what does one do then?

Here’s what I did: I let loose hundreds of balloons, some big, some small, and just hoped some of them would go far, and that I would hear back from some of them. I applied for tons of jobs in tons of work fields, some in Amsterdam, some in London… I did open auditions, researched more LA talent agents, started writing a screenplay, contacted illustration agencies to be considered for representation, started systematically collecting evidence for the O1 visa request, aka US work visa for actors…

It’s cost a lot of energy, with very little coming back so far. But it made me learn an important lesson (yet another one, I know, original blonde what can I say): you really just never know how the things you do will unfold, sometimes you just gotta take a chance. Do something even if you can’t imagine it doing much good short-term, or long-term. Of course everyone pursuing an acting career takes a chance, a huge one, but I mean it on a different level.

In an acting career you can at least imagine the good things that can come from it. I mean please, I’ve had so many vivid daydreams of receiving an Oscar or meeting Al Pacino, it’s embarrassing. But starting this blog for example, was something I didn’t want to do initially unless I had a full on business plan. But then I just did it. Writing for hours, spamming people to death with it on Twitter, no idea if it would ever get me anywhere or anything.

And it got me so much. Kindred spirits all over the world -some of whom I might meet in real life soon- a voting army that got me on a TV show, nice comments from people that I look up to…

So I’m just gonna keep blowing up balloons, sending them out into the world, hoping one someday means something. My LA balloon is still the biggest and strongest and brightest, but California is a long way from here, so just for the sake of staying useful I’m sending out others too. And who knows, they might still get me where I want to be, just in smaller steps.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “How Life is Like A Balloon Contest

  1. Camille Blanche

    This is very inspirational! Thank you

    Good luck with all your pursuits. With such dedication I’m sure your dreams will come true.

  2. This post came into my email at just the right time.. I’ve been feeling kind of depressed, kind of lost for the past couple of weeks, and I really needed this wake up call.. Thank you.. For staying strong and for helping others with dream stay strong too.. =)

    http://www.petitemodel87.blogspot.com

  3. Carlijn

    Wat goed dat je het niet opgeeft!
    Op een dag vindt iemand jouw ballon en zal hem losmaken uit de boom en hem weer opnieuw laten vliegen. Dan zal hij nog hoger en nog verder vliegen en nog veel meer mensen zullen hem zien.
    Succes!

  4. Nadi

    Lieve Shanice,
    Wat een mooi stukje heb je weer geschreven. Vind het erg knap van je dat je niet bij de pakken neer gaat zitten en zorgt dat je (om maar in metaforen en gezegdes te blijven spreken) meer ijzers in het vuur hebt! Keep up the good work! En echt, er komt een dag that it all pays off!
    Heel veel succes en probeer alles (ja ZELFS het wonen in HHW ;)) van de zonnige kant te zien. Gelukkig helpt het weer goed mee!
    Veel liefs, Nadi

  5. Ben

    On the topic of ‘making it’ yet again ^^ (Sorry for the long post in advance)
    *ahem*
    This world is filled with people who depend on courage or hope to make it through the day, some won’t make it, others will. And I think you will. Some of us dreamers will end up with a bullet between the eyes and some will hold Oscars, some of us will hold Oscars while snorting cocaine. The point I’m making is that happiness doesn’t come from achievements or acknowledgement from mass-media. The journey, the quest, the LIFE is all the happiness you’ll get! 😀 There won’t be a major-gigantic-unending-acid-rain of happiness and love when you hold that Oscar statue, you know ;). It’s metal and gold, not magic or Nirvana 🙂

    But what I’ve found from reading your blog (and watching your youtube showreal) is that it’s actually likely that you’ll succeed. There’s a number of reasons for this but in the interest of being brief: you match hope and dreaming with rationale and realism. You’re professional, empathic and human without being squishy or using chase/pursuit of distant dreams as a coping mechanism for something. You’ll go far, kid. I’d tell you to believe in yourself, but you already do, and some stranger off the web won’t make the difference in that regard 😛 Anyways, please continue posting, it’s interesting to see how you develop as an actor and human being. Just don’t do it all because you think one day it’ll be worth it when everyone cheer at your Oscar ceremony. Do it because you believe it. Everything else is ultimately meaningless. What I’m trying to say here (and I learned this the hard way after years of acting) is don’t think there will be a singular moment in time where you feel complete and that feeling will last forever. Act as if you don’t care if people see it or acknowledge it. If getting noticed is in the back of your mind in and during your performances, it will show, and you won’t “make” it. Friendly advice 🙂 “Work like you don’t need the money”
    All the best, hope positive and healing energies come your way and keep you in the best of spirits 🙂
    Ben

    • Ben, thank you so much for your wonderful yet critical comment and you’re absolutely right. I think I wrote it somewhere here before myself too: happiness isn’t a state, it’s a fleeting moment of 3 seconds at most usually generated by random stuff. That’s it for me anyway.

      However, being content is also something wonderful to achieve. Right now I just feel rushed and unaccomplished a lot because I’m not where I want to be, not on the road I want to walk. And it affects my mood, which is why just being able to audition on a weekly basis would make life so much better. Because then at least I’d be walking on the right road. Hopefully I will get there this year. And then, yes, an Oscar would make me feel pretty accomplished and content. But not happy no. Because there is more than career in life. All the best!

  6. Hi Shanice! I found your blog yesterday and I just finished reading it now and I’m amazed. I never thought that I would find someone that I could related with and I did. I’m from Portugal and I’m 16 years. I want to be an actress since I was 6. My parents don’t support that idea and I guess they’re waiting for the day that I came home saying that I want to be a doctor (even though I don’t have the grades to it), so I never experienced nothing related to acting (because they didn’t let me) and I have NO idea if I’m good. And being a portuguese, doesn’t help. Here we only have telenovelas and P-18 movies. And I’m not into that. And with all of these, I still say that I want to be an actress. So, this is my dilema. Hopefully, reading your blog, is like a ferrero rocher in the middle of the summer.
    And I want to say that, I don’t understand a word of German or Dutch.. But I searched your TV show on youtube, and I can say that I really like your acting.

  7. worlds biggest optimist

    Hi ! We share our dream Shanice and I know we are both going to make it !
    See ya on the red carpet in like 5 till 1o years :DDDD, just kidding 🙂
    Anyway…this could help… 🙂 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/404986.Self_Management_for_Actors

  8. Danielle

    Hoihoi!
    Ten eerste wil ik even zeggen dat ik je blog heel erg leuk vind om te lezen. Ik heb namelijk precies dezelfde ambities als jij: Nederlands meisje die het wil maken in Amerika. Ik snap dan ook precies hoe je je voelt en zo 🙂
    Ten tweede wil ik even laten weten hoe ik op je blog ben gestuit: het YouTube-filmpje dat op je profiel staat van Rachel McAdams die auditie doet voor The Notebook. Haha!
    Ik ben er drie minder dan een week geleden op gestuit en ik lees nu je blogs van begin af aan. Helaas heb ik ivm school niet heel erg veel tijd om snel te lezen, maar ik leer er nu al veel van!
    Nou, dit wilde ik even laten weten, haha! Wees maar niet bang, ik zal je later nog met veel meer berichtjes stalken met vragen etc. Hahaha!
    Ik wens je veel succes in ieder geval en ik ben blij dat ik jouw ervaringen kan lezen, want daar leer ik, zoals ik al zei, heel veel van!

    xoxo Danielle

  9. Mounir

    Hoi,
    Wat heb je dit mooi verteld op een figuurlijke manier. Super! je zegt de woorden die ik soms aan het zoeken bent. Nogmaals mooi gezegd!

    Mounir
    Keep smiling

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