Money dysmorphia.

Written By Annika Rudolph

In college, my roommate and I came up with the term “money dysmorphia.” Not only did I grow up in a home where we lived paycheck to paycheck, but as artists, there is a lot of uniformed noise surrounding our “unstable income.” In other words, no matter how much I had saved in the bank, I remained convinced that my diet must consist of ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches.


Despite my dysmorphia, I hate the term “survival job.” After graduation, I wanted to find work that would pay the bills, but also provide me with a sense of fulfillment after the inevitable disappointing audition.


After about a year and a half of working in the early childhood education industry, I noticed that I began to base my career decisions on my work schedule. I didn’t book audition appointments because I was afraid of asking off.


Nothing is guaranteed in this career; I could no longer wait for a magical, out-of-town contract to break me from this pattern. My gut was urging me to take a risk.


On a particularly gloomy day, my mom forwarded me an ad for the Atlantic Acting School’s summer intensive, as the information for their Resident Artist scholarship program happened to find its way to her inbox. Without thinking too hard about it, I applied.


A couple of months later, I got the news that I was accepted into the program. Although I was honored,

I immediately began to kick myself. Committing to this program would require taking six weeks off of work! What was I thinking?


I waited until the night before the commitment deadline to put down my deposit, and it took me another three weeks to tell my job that I would be taking the summer off. Deep down, I knew I would be rewarded for listening to my gut, but the anxiety was ridiculous.


On July 5th, I headed to Chelsea and started my journey at the Atlantic Acting School. Turns out my gut was right; it was euphoric. My peers and instructors were awe-inspiring, so much so that I realized that I wasn’t going to return to my job at the conclusion of the program. I didn’t have a job offer, but I knew I would figure it out by putting my passion first.


If you’re reading this post, I am almost positive that there is a gut feeling you’re ignoring. It can be as simple as “I should start to incorporate a daily voice warm up into my routine,” or as drastic as “I need to move to Los Angeles to pursue the career I’ve been dreaming of.” Taking a risk can feel incredibly lonely, but trust me, there is beauty, wisdom, and community on the other side.



Annika Rudolph


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