Updated: Jun 30
written by Alexander Circosta, Member, The Brilliant Foundation
AUSTRALIA - When I graduated from Law school in 2014, the unimaginative questions came fast and fervently“What area of Law do you want to work in?” “Do you have a graduate position?” “Oh Law, Lawyers make so much money, don’t they?”
My answers fittingly were just as uninspiring: “I don’t know or no…I’m looking… and yes, but the hours are terrible.”
Somewhere within the prestige of studying to join a profession which often piques peoples interest with the idea of court trials, glistening offices and power suits, I had found myself simply not that interested in being part of any of it.
The idea of being placed at a desk reading through mounds of legal documentation and keeping a clean log and ledger, in case your client sues you, just did not appeal to me in the slightest.
I wasn’t and am not against the profession by any means, it is so necessary in our society for the development of our legal system and the law permeates throughout every aspect of our lives.
To this day, I myself often find a great deal of satisfaction in espousing legal terms and rhetoric in general conversation “misrepresentation, the “chain of causation” and the concept of “vicarious liability” being my current personal favourite phrases.
However, I realized very quickly once I had commenced my Practical Legal Training that this was quite simply not the profession for me. A realization which came with a career trajectory decision, in which I then had to ask myself - What do I actually want to do? And the more important question - What do I give myself permission to want to do?
When I was younger, my love for the Arts was absolutely fostered. I danced, ballet first then jazz because it was cooler, sung in the choir and played the clarinet. And of course, followed by the many drama classes and inevitable school performances.
I truly loved this! As an introverted shy person, it is not uncommon to express oneself through the Arts and I was definitely no exception to this.
Once, I was at university, I finally could explore this part of my personality in a more focused way surrounded by so many other creative individuals and experiences.
I reluctantly enrolled into my Practical Legal Training course to become admitted to practice as a Lawyer in Western Australia or a “string to my bow” as a lecturer told me when I said I was unsure of continuing with further legal study.
When we do things reluctantly, we are not truly giving of our self, we are not present nor are we that engaged in the work. Throughout my course I learnt very quickly I was definitely not the most intelligent or dedicated but I was the most dramatic in the most positive sense of the word.
When discussing what a lawyer would need to do to put a client at ease I very aptly suggested that: “We should serve coke zero in the meeting room, because it has all of the flavour with none of the calories.”
This got a warm response from my peers and I found myself performing once again. This continued and I relished any role play opportunity to perform as a lawyer cross-examining a witness or being admonished by a judge for not adhering to proper court etiquette or decorum.
Billboard of Alexander Circosta at Perth Underground Train Station for a WA Housing Campaign.
I was getting closer, but it would still be a few more years before I would fully embrace the idea of not being a full time lawyer but instead being a performer and entertainer.
For 3 years I ran a comedy company, improvisational teaching and performing to be specific. After the initial grace period, I quickly learnt that you actually spend a lot of time managing not just the day to day tasks but also the emotions of the people who work there.
Unfortunately, I struggled to maintain a clear structure and felt like as the company grew and more individuals became involved I was essentially building the bridge as we crossed it.
This led to an understanding that you will inevitably make decisions as a leader that will make you unpopular with some of your team. The other thing I noticed was, as I worked behind the scenes trying to grow opportunities for the collective, I began to lose sight of my own goals as an individual.
In June 2018, I gave myself permission to dedicate my attention and time to pursue an individual career in the Creative Arts. It came at a moment where, having sold, essentially given away, the comedy company I was passionately but naively running, it was time to really own my own skillset and begin to do work that mattered to me.
The only part I kept from that comedy company was the improvisation class I taught in Mandurah at the Youth Centre, which I still teach every Monday till this day. It is a privilege to be a mentor to young people and share my experiences in performing that I do not take for granted.
Alexander Circosta performing as Gaston the “gorgeously obnoxious” villain in the Musical Beauty and The Beast at The Regal Theatre
Since then I have performed comedy routines across Perth, I have dressed as Superman many times, appeared in TV commercials, in films, presented on Channel 7 and recently acted as Gaston in the Beauty and The Beast Musical.
Most importantly, I have experienced the joy of being part of something creative an intangible, deeply rewarding privilege that I do not take for granted.
In life there are many paths, often we yearn for purpose and meaning and the social pressure that comes with living a comfortable life which minimizes as much hardship as possible.
Hanging out with the superheroes at Perth Children's Hospital
I am privileged in my life in that I was able to give myself permission to pursue my “dream” whether it’s for just one more year, a decade or my whole life - I have loved the journey and all the experiences.
Now the questions I get asked have changed: “Did you go to WAAPA?” “Do you want to be on Neighbours?” and “Actors don’t make a lot of money, do they?”
I respond candidly: “No, I didn’t go to WAAPA.” “Sure, do you know the casting director of Neighbours?” “Finally, I didn’t become an actor for the money, I became an actor because when I am engaged in a creative project. I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.”
Here are my 5 insights to pursuing a career and profession of your choice.
1. Identify what you enjoy by giving yourself permission to try new things, start with your hobbies by dedicating a small amount of time each week to explore, it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach.
2. Reverse the steps from your goal, distill the skills within the locus of your control and remember even the positive changes we make in life can have negative emotions attached to them.
3. Be direct with your communication as humans we struggle to infer what someone else wants, tell people explicitly using examples and if they don’t listen talk to someone else.
4. Experience doesn’t equal expertise, don’t be scared to find mentors who genuinely believe in you and will advocate for you.
5. Bringing Joy is a special thing, do things that matter to you, if you find your mind constantly wondering elsewhere while you are at your current job then you are not where you are meant to be!
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