Be who you are and say what you feel
because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind.
— Dr. Seuss
This year marks 3 important anniversaries in my life:
- 10 years as a professional voiceover artist
- 24 years as a loving wife to Drew
- 30 years as a hard-working employee of the Internal Revenue Service
While faithful readers of this blog (and I thank you for your continued interest and support!) know about the first 2 things in the list, the third item may surprise you. Like many voiceover talent, I have a day job, but I refused to talk or write about it until now.
Having a full-time job as an IT specialist and working as a voice talent has made me feel like a secret agent with a double life. My voiceover business is not a secret from my employer; I followed the rules to obtain permission to have an outside business. However, I have felt that I couldn’t talk about my voiceover work while on the job at the IRS because I worried that people there would think I’m slacking off in my duties or not interested in promotion.
At the same time, I wouldn’t talk about my day job to voiceover peers for fear of losing respect and credibility. In addition, I felt that prospects and clients would look elsewhere for voice talent, thinking that I’m not serious about voiceover work, don’t need the money from the gig, and/or might not be available to perform their script on deadline.
So why am I confessing now?
I started work at the IRS while still a teenager in high school. I never dreamed that I would be there 3 decades later! In fact, one day in 1996, I almost quit in anger over a reorganization that sent me to a job I didn’t want. My very wise dad kept me from making a rash decision by doing some simple math to calculate an estimate for my monthly retirement annuity. You see, the government offers me retirement benefits that seem incredible in this day — a monthly annuity and health insurance plans that will cover Drew and me for the rest of our lives. I never thought about my retirement annuity before that day. I decided that I wouldn’t quit and leave our lifetime financial security on the table.
You’d think that I could retire with 30 years of service, and I could — IF I also met the additional age requirement, which is still in the future. At this point, I plan to retire from the IRS in 7 years. It’s mentally exhausting to be a secret agent, and seven more years of playing that role is too great of a burden.
Voiceover may seem like a career change, but it has called to me for my entire life. Beginning in 5th grade, my goal was always to be the voice of a cartoon character. I also aspired to be a talk show host and play-by-play announcer for major league baseball. When I went to college, I earned my degree in radio and TV journalism. I interned at a TV and a radio station and briefly worked at a radio station because I thought that was the best path to get my voice into commercials and eventually animation.
In my case, the career change happened in reverse. I did not plan my 25-year odyssey through IRS information technology positions: programmer, programmer analyst, first-line manager to a programming staff, LAN/e-mail/WAN administrator, and now technical advisor to a senior IT manager. In recent years, though, I have learned that every moment has meaning. My communications skills were highly valued in these very technical positions, and now my tremendous IT knowledge is a major asset in my voiceover business, whether used for marketing, equipment purchase/installation/troubleshooting or narrations for e-learning modules and corporate videos.
I finally accept that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I may not be a full-time voiceover actor, but I know that day is coming. In the meantime, I’m doing all that I can to prepare for that day while still enjoying my present life. One way to enjoy my life more is to stop worrying what other people will think about me in both of my careers!
By turning in my secret agent’s badge, I am relieved that at long last I can be who I am and say what I feel. The benefit to you, dear reader, is that I now am liberated to share previously withheld observations and discoveries that may help others on their own paths of career change, artistic expression and self-fulfillment.