Fools Rush In - The Long Winter
I wrapped up my last blog entry with the following thought:
“…people generally understand rules. What they don't seem to grasp, however, are consequences.”
Every person in the world could write some books of their own that start with those simple thoughts. Today, I’m going to share a story with you that I remembered while writing my last blog entry. And guess what? You're going to find out how it relates to voice acting at the end.
This particular story takes place back in my college days, when I had first moved out. One of my best friends and I got ourselves an apartment and furnished it with...well, whatever we could find, really. This included a cardboard box that we named Larry, on which the printer sat atop. And there was also Harry (also a cardboard box) atop which sat the television.
This would probably be a good time to remind you all that adolescence and brain development to adulthood does not really finish until well into your 20s, according to the latest data. This means that at the aforementioned time in my life, a snapshot into my brain might show something like a "Still installing brain: progress 72%" bar. This age range always comes with a real potential for a lack of foresight into some decision making. As the saying goes, "fools rush in".
In this specific instance, we didn't really grasp the entirety of the picture behind a decision we made, and our lack of insight kept us going down an amusing enough path with some consequences that we would later encounter.
I had gotten my very first cellphone. It was one of those original flip-phones with that newfangled camera technology. Yeah! Someone out there had the novel, ridiculous, and yet charming idea to put a CAMERA in a cellphone! The image quality was roughly the equivalent of a potato, but the fact remained that you could take some weird semblance of a picture with said cellphone. Much of today’s regular, everyday technologies were in their early, unrefined origins during my college years.
But for me, I’d say the big theme of my college experience was training. Training, you say? Training what?
Training whatever the hell I could!
I wanted SKILLS and abilities! Napoleon Dynamite said it best, and to be a respectable gang member or an attractive potential mate, you needed skills! The friends I’d found were constantly pushing each other to be the best that we could be; to be the elite. At what, it didn't really matter - LIFE, for all we cared! We wanted to become the Bruce Waynes of the world.
So, one day in the company of Larry the Cardboard Box, the notion of passively training my ability to be hearty and resistant to the harsh elements popped into my head. And let me tell you: this notion seemed extremely appealing. And when I shared this idea with the roommate, he became equally enthusiastic at the prospect. So it was decided. We would become better trained for the elements this coming winter. How? Oh, simple. We wouldn't turn on the heat - not for any reason! We would passively train our bodies to become resilient during the cold, snowy winter months that were to take place in Pullman.
And from that moment moving forward, the heat remained off.
Autumn came. And then autumn passed. All the while, it became colder and colder.
What was initially wearing an extra layer of clothing indoors turned into wearing our winter coats as well. Hats and gloves became a normal part of indoor wear. At any given time, I would be fumbling through the pages of whatever books I needed to study because of the gloves I was wearing.
I remember at night, the many layers upon layers of blankets on my bed, and just how heavy they felt. I remember my nose and face feeling very cold at night while in bed, since they were bare and exposed to the cold air. Keeping warm was no small challenge to our ancestors, I can only imagine. At times I would wake up just from rolling over in my sleep, because whatever space that wasn’t immediately beneath me and warmed by my body had already been claimed by the freezing cold. It got so cold in the apartment that the refrigerator stopped turning on; we had fallen below whatever target temperature it needed to cool our food to. I remember one morning discovering that the milk had turned to slush when trying to pour it onto my cereal for breakfast.
And that’s how things went for a while. It kind of helped that we were in it together; it kept us encouraging each other. But it also made things a bit more amusing, as we had the constant reminders of seeing each other in winter clothing while indoors at any given time.
This all continued until one morning, around Christmas, when I discovered that the only water that would come out of the shower’s faucet was a tiny, searing hot trickle. In fact, the only water that would come out of ANY faucets in the apartment was this extremely hot and paltry drizzle.
While confused at first, we would eventually figure out that this meant that the pipes had frozen.
And that’s a pretty bad thing.
See the thing with water is that it actually expands when it freezes. So, you can safely assume that ice is going to take up more space than water in a confined space…say, for example, a metal pipe. What’s supposed to happen? Where is it supposed to go? Well that’s just it - this is exactly how pipes burst from water freezing.
Some panic ensued following the realization of what had happened. And after a frantic exchange of thoughts, perhaps a couple of accusations, and some lamentations, it was eventually decided that the only logical thing to do was to turn the heat on – but only enough to thaw the ice! And to then leave the heat on – but only enough to prevent the pipes from freezing again!
I'm not sure if:
We had only just barely learned the lesson at hand...
...or we were still determined to accomplish what we set out to do in the first place.
As far as we gathered, things seemed to resolve themselves on their own. The pipes did eventually thaw. The apartment management reached out to everyone in the building about the problem and supposedly investigated the matter…and had issued a seemingly harsh warning that if someone’s negligence was the cause of it, they would figure out who and proceed accordingly.
But that never happened.
Which made me wonder: were the neighbors around me doing the same thing??
Winter carried on – this time with just a little bit of heat on. We continued needing to wear layers indoors.
So with all that was said and done, it begs the big question! Did we become heartier and accustomed to the elements? Man, I have no idea. I think at the time, we believed that we did.
But what we did do was challenge ourselves to something that we knew would be difficult, follow-through with the long term plan to accomplish this goal, and we stayed the course until reaching a point that required us to actually stop and evaluate everything.
What we didn’t do was quit.
We knew it wouldn’t always be easy and that perhaps we’d need to sacrifice some comfort along the way to accomplish what we set out to do.
How often do we see people want to get involved in something that you know is challenging and takes some work, diligence, and time, only to see them back out just as soon as a little hard work is expected and required? How often do we see that in the world of voiceover, especially? How often do we hear “I’m told I have a nice voice” or “I do impersonations” followed by “how do I get into voice over work?” but are then completely ghosted when the subject of coaching, marketing yourself, or running a business is brought to the table as a response?
Look, we all get ideas from time to time. And once in a while, we decide an idea is good enough to try dipping our toes into something over. And that’s usually the big moment where we decide if it’s worth it to us or not. Is the water too cold? Am I going to be ok with going further from this point and getting more submerged here? For voiceover artists:
Am I willing to commit to coaching and critique?
Am I willing to invest in decent equipment like a mic and recording space?
Am I willing to pay for a professionally produced demo to market myself with?
Am I willing to reach out to complete strangers and market myself and my talents?
When it’s voice over, you’re in this for the long haul. Our minds love conjuring up those fun snapshots of us having a grand old time in front of the mic or collecting a big juicy paycheck, but the truth is we all may have to ride out some metaphorical cold winters of our own, and sacrifice a little while pursuing these goals we set for ourselves. The road to success isn’t always comfortable - there are elements to endure! And every so often you will hit a road block, or encounter something that requires you to stop and evaluate what it is that you might be doing inefficiently or outright incorrectly.
Heck, you might even freeze the pipes on accident!
Whatever you do, just don’t quit.
Fools rush in – yeah, we all know that. But fools rush out sometimes, too.
If you enjoy reading my blogs, I bet you'd like some of the other voice over blogs that I really love! Take a minute and check out these truly wonderful voiceover blogs. Reading these is always a big highlight in my busy life!