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
- 20+ years as a loving wife to Drew
- 25+ 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 spend a full career there!
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. I stayed, continued to do my best at work, and started my part-time voice-over business 3 years later.
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.
Art Thompson says
Thank you Karen Commins, for shedding your disguise and revealing you true “super-hero” identity!!!
I understand why you chose to work that way. IRS was a client of mine, once upon a time. 🙂 I was with BellSouth Marketing and for a year or so the Fed Gov’t was my only assigned customer. During that stretch, I designed and we installed two “first-of-a-kind” telecommunications systems for the IRS. In Miami and Jacksonville, which became the prototypes for all their regional “customer service” operations. During the implementation of those systems, I became quite familiar with IRS ops in those years. Surely they’ve changed much since, but the “corporate culture” doesn’t evolve as quickly as does technology. 🙂
That’s been a lot of years ago now, but memories are still vivid.
I wish you the very best in your dual careers!
Now . . . up, up, and away!! Faster than a speeding bullet . . .
Hi, Art! Your line about my “super-hero identity” made me laugh! The main reason that I chose to drop the disguise is to be of more help to other people who dream of making a change in their lives but don’t know how to proceed. I have stories connected with the day job that I will be using in future blog entries. Since this blog and my life are centered around my voice-over career, I still won’t talk much about the day job, especially when I’m in negotiation with a client! 🙂
Thanks for dropping by the blog and leaving your comment.
You have lit a fire under me!!I to have always wanted a profession where I use my voice full time. I interned at a news station when I was 16 and then I majored in broadcast journalism in college and worked in news a little after graduating. I decided I did not want to work in a negative environment day in and day out so I switched careers and have been a job hopper for many years. I continue to get so many compliments on my voice that I know I need to put in the work to make it happen. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Sometimes it helps to know there are others who share your feelings.
Hi, Susie! I have a plaque on my desk at work with this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
It’s better to light a candle
than to curse the darkness.
Sometimes we don’t realize the candle is nearby, and we lose our way in the dark. I’m thrilled and humbled if something I said helped bring your dreams back into the light.
Best wishes for your success and happiness!
I’m excited to hear your decision to leave a government job for this and I’ll be following to see how it progresses for you. I have worked in government for 11 years and am just starting out in Voice-over. Your words are encouraging that this can be done part time as I’m not sure how long it will take to get the guts to leave the security of my day job. I’m most interested in seeing how your work as a part timer transforms into full time. My fear is that I will build relationships and people will come to expect that I can only be relied on part time, and when I make the leap to full time there won’t be enough work. Good luck to you in the new year and thanks for all the advice.
Greetings, Janet! Thanks for the nice note.
I want to encourage you to develop a mindset of abundance and prosperity. Fear comes from a scarcity mindset, and it holds us back from living the life of our dreams.
I have a few thoughts about a couple of things you said because they are based in fear.
First, you said you don’t know “how long it will take to get the guts to leave the security of my day job.” You might want to adopt a mantra I used for years: “I’m there until…”
I felt that the Universe would give me a clear sign when the time was right to make the change to leave the job. Saying “I’m there until…” and not filling in the end of the sentence took the stress out of the situation. It allowed me to keep moving forward and not worry about it until I had an actual decision to make. Being open-ended also allowed the Universe to make my day job more fulfilling as it saw fit.
Actually, I had another favorite mantra: “I have a life, and this isn’t it!” I work to live, not live to work.
You also said: “My fear is that I will build relationships and people will come to expect that I can only be relied on part time, and when I make the leap to full time there won’t be enough work. ”
I never told clients I was a part-time voice talent! One of my mentors advised me to always think of myself as a $100K a year voice talent who occasionally does other work.
If I had to work on the day job when a VO gig came up, I would just say I’m booked then. I used vacation time and days off to do voiceover work. Since I usually work in my studio without client direction, I have the liberty of completing the assignment in the hours away from my day job — lots of nights and weekends have been spent completing voiceover jobs!
Also, it’s ultra important to think/write/say what you WANT. I wrote more about this piece of advice in this entry:
I think a scarcity mindset is ingrained in us, especially if you watch the news on TV. For what’s it worth, I never watch the news. I prefer to spend my time reading lots of books and listening to audio programs on the Law of Attraction, gratitude, power of thoughts, etc.
t takes vigilance to carefully monitor the information going into my brain and the words coming out of my mouth. However, developing an abundance mindset is well worth any time or effort spent to attain or maintain it.
I hope these thoughts are helpful to you as you move forward in your voiceover career. Best wishes for your health, prosperity, and success!
Wow, you really nailed it on the head. I appreciate you calling me out on my fear. I definetly use it as my excuse to spin my wheels. I’ve never thought of it as a scarcity issue, but it’s true. I constantly have thought of “the daily grind” as something I don’t have a choice about, I gotta pay the billis, right? Not that I’m gonna quit tomorrow, but I like the idea that I don’t have to see my day job as the main thing in my life. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have to tell VO jobs that I have a “real job.” I love the idea of thinking of VO as the main thing, and right now my day job provides that luxury until…