Guest contributor: Vasilios Asimakos

Bad Advice Wednesday: Greetings from a 25-Year Old in His Childhood Bed in His Parents’ House

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour


Vasilios at a reading from his screenplay, “The Ungettable Get.”

Speaking to Bill after his recent reading at Andover Books in Andover, Massachusetts, I asked for his take on some trouble I was having.  We talked for a bit, he gave me some advice (not bad, because it was a Thursday), shared a bit of his own experience, then encouraged me to write in to Bill and Dave’s.  I said, “But I haven’t come to any sort of conclusion about anything!”  And he said, “Well, then write about how you haven’t come to a conclusion!”

I’d written a page about the particulars of my situation to send Bill.  But when I read it over to edit it, I grew disgusted with myself and immediately deleted it.  “For the love of God, man, stop whining,” an inner, much more put-together version of myself surfaced to say (in the voice of Ian McShane, strangely enough).  But I mean, I’ve already got this word document open named “for Bill,” so I’ll at least send something.

I’m an actor and a writer, but I also work 25 hours a week at my “day job” with a schedule that varies greatly from week to week.  It doesn’t pay great, but offers great benefits and a safety net for when the acting gigs are few and far between.  My boss is incredibly obliging about giving me days off, as long as I ask for them before he completes the schedule (at least five days in advance). Unfortunately, the entertainment industry gives you at most two days’ notice before an audition or a gig.  My day job also often turns my brain to mush, making it difficult for me to get motivated to write or prepare for auditions when I get home.  So the thing that provides me with the money I need to get by actually saps me of artistic opportunities and desire.

What I wish to do: walk away from that job and not look back.  Spend every waking moment either writing, reading, preparing for an audition, auditioning, shooting, or taking a class.  Best case scenario if I do that: the flexibility of my schedule and increased desire combine to make my artistic product better, making my artistic business better, making more money for me, allowing me to then invest more in my artistic growth, and a happy cycle begins.  Worst case scenario: I don’t get enough work, my savings dry up very quickly, and I’m forced to go crawling back to that job (if they’ll take me) in order to be able to pay my bills.

Vasilios gets strangled in “Retribution”

Most of the people I’ve talked to tell me not to quit my job.  My agent, for example, says to continue to try and balance everything; in this market there are very few who make it on acting or writing alone.  My family says that I can’t discount steady income.  They basically tell me to accomplish everything I can artistically while holding down this job.  If I get lucky and hit it big, great.  If I don’t after a few years, it’s time to change course and get serious about starting my adult life (“find a real career”).  Honestly, I can’t blame them for thinking that way.  The immigrant farmers turned factory workers in my family come from a paradigm of doing what is necessary, not what is beautiful.  There’s a strong simplicity to that kind of practicality.  But I’m not wired that way.  The services I must provide aren’t pharmaceutical or legal or material.  I just want to tell stories.  Try explaining that to my Greek father.  “My poor future grandchildren,” he must be thinking.

An actor friend of mine who did “take the plunge” told me he’s glad he did it.  He walked away from a well-paying career and is now living at home, not financially successful per se, but happier overall.  He says the pressure to book gigs made him work harder at his craft than he ever had before.  And he said that when he did hit rock bottom, it wasn’t the end of the world.  That he did go broke, but he didn’t die or anything.  And that’s not that bad, right?  Right?

I’ve also heard from many that the journey is more important than the destination.  My question to them is, “Does the easiness with which you say that come from the financial success you achieved when you reached that destination?”

At this point, I don’t feel happy or fulfilled.  I’m just either less stressed or more stressed.  If anyone has any thoughts on quitting the thing that pays your bills because it’s holding you back from what you really want to do, hook me up.  Please?


Vasilios Asimakos lives in Lowell, Massachusetts.

  1. Matthew Taylor writes:

    After majoring in English in college, I decided to take the “find a real career” route. For some reason, I thought that writing would never pan out for me, so I’d aim for the financial security instead. Now, in my mid-forties, with a wife and kids and a mortgage, I regret that I didn’t try harder at the writing. Why? Because writing is the one thing (besides family) that I can say gives me purpose. My career doesn’t excite me or make me proud the way writing does. And I would have been content to just muddle away for the next decade were it not for my son asking me recently what I do. What do I do???? So, by pursuing your purpose in life, you are actually leading by example, letting your life shine.

    • Vasilios writes:

      That’s a great take, Matthew, thank you.

      It’s an all-too common theme in my family, working jobs that don’t give you purpose. I’ve heard it before, “Where I work is not who I am,” where the person considers themselves, well, themselves only on nights and weekends.

      It’s not someone I want to be going forward.

      My family is proud of me, yes, but I sense a lot more worry than pride. It’s funny about “shining your light,” though, my limited success in the New England film scene has already “inspired” some of my younger cousins. They want to be in their school plays and, and take singing and dance lessons, and so on.

      I guess that’s what I should be focusing on.

      What an exceptional collection of warmth we have on this page!

    • Debora writes:

      Are you writing now, Matthew? I t sounds like you have a good deal to say…

  2. Tommy writes:

    Once, I was watching Jay Letterman interview audience members as part of a regular feature. On one such occasion, he asked an attractive young lady what she did, she beamed, “I’m an actress!” Without skipping a beat, Jay replied: “At which restaurant?”

    Vasilios, It’s quite common for people your age hungering for the dream to quit their day-job, go back to school, acquire billions of dollars in student loans (FREE MONEY NOW!), they’ll spend the rest of their lives trying to repay. Common, and ACCEPTED. You’re no different. O.k., you’re an artist. Your prospects of earning a living in your chosen field aren’t as good as someone who goes back to get an advanced degree in paleontology, or goes to summer baseball camp 8 years in a row, makes every travelling team, etc. etc.

    Do you think your parents and grandparents worked their whole lives just so you could live at home and dream of becoming an artist???? You’re damn right they did!

    There’s two things that can happen, you could follow your dreams and realize them, or you could follow your dreams and be miserable. Either way, never forget who’s backs you’re standing on everytime you audition for a part, read a script, or write a short story very few will read. Set a goal, so you’ll know when you’ve had enough. Don’t wake up at 40 still believeing you could have been Lee Marvin! Jump – but don’t burn any bridges!

    [But I like the temp. job idea, too. Or get another sucky job that doesn’t puddle your medula.]

  3. Bernie Bacon writes:

    Maybe once Obamacare comes online, the benefits won’t be so hard to come by without a particular job. I never made a living wage as a radio announcer after 20+ years of trying, but I’d have been very unhappy with myself if I hadn’t tried.

    There are jobs (self-employment opportunities) that offer excellent flexibility in scheduling. Depending upon market conditions, collecting scrap metal can pay well and there is no schedule other than dropping off a load when the scrap metal buyer is open. I service gumball machines at a mall … money isn’t very good, but the schedule is “get it done sometime within the 2 week period.” One can buy a small vending route for about $1500; and expand it if it works out…or sell it at a small loss perhaps if it doesn’t. One way to get health insurance inexpensively is to take a course or courses at a community college and buy the student health insurance for around $100/month. Might even be available if you take online courses with very flexible schedules.

    Good luck.


    • Vasilios writes:

      Thanks so much for your input, Bernie, it means a lot to me. Those are three avenues I’ve definitely not looked into. But soon will! I do agree with you that self-employment of some kind is much more practical. Anything where you can set your own hours would be favorable.

  4. Barb Eidlin writes:

    Hi, Vasilios,

    It seems to me you are looking for other people to answer a question only you can answer, and you can only answer that question by making a choice, and then following through with that choice.

    Re: job: have you tried temping?

    Shine on you crazy diamond –


  5. Pat shipley writes:


    Chekov said, “Medicine is my lawful wife and literature is my mistress”. He was generally considered to be pretty good at both.

    Keep your day job, you need the medical insurance. When possible, move out of your parents house. This is a personal issue of mine, so I may not be correct. I went to college early in order to leave home. There was nothing awful about living there, the world was simply bigger and not contained within their walls. I went to art school and ultimately became a neurologist.

    25 is old when you are living it and so very young looking back.

    If you are meant to be a great writer or actor, a day job won’t keep you from it. It may give you excuses, but it will not put out the flame.

    Good luck to you.


    • Vasilios writes:

      Pat, thanks so much for your input.

      I love the thought that “If you are meant to be a great writer or actor, a day job won’t keep you from it.”

      Amen to that. Look what I stumbled upon last night:

      For writing, I believe that’s absolutely the case. If you work a 9-5, you can write from 8-10PM, for example. If you work 1-9, you can write from 9-11AM. But like I stated, the entertainment industry is kind of a bitch, because everything is offered with such short notice. I got a phone call the other day asking me if I could be in Boston in the next half hour, for Christ’s sake. Paid gig, too. Even with my part-time job, I’ve had to miss out on auditions and work. It’s a bummer.

      But I do agree with you that the dream won’t die if the fire doesn’t. If anything, I’ll just focus on my writing while I’m not acting. And that’s far from a doomsday sentence. The less I act, the more I can write. Maybe that little nugget is God/the Universe helping me out with my decision.

      As you are.


      • Pat shipley writes:

        No one has ever called me a little nugget and I was once in love with a boy named Vasilios in Athens so I owe you this extra piece about a man who was born and raised in Lowell who wanted to be a jazz pianist.

        This man was raised in fairly similar circumstances to yours it seems. He found no greater joy than playing jazz. He got his degree from Berklee and became a music teacher, then an administer. He didn’t talk too much about that.

        Every chance he got he played gigs with his band or solo gigs, in small clubs big clubs, parties. When we lived together in Newport we had no dining room table but we had two grand pianos, one a Bosendorfer, and a keyboard in the room.

        He worked a full time job and a full time dream. He developed a following. His “strong left hand” was written about by music critics. He made an album that was well received. He was able to quit his teaching job. he is now a very successful jazz pianist. I don’t think there are many of those.

        So, there are no right paths to live the creative life. I just thought I would offer an example with a happy ending. Although he did lose the girl.

        Besy wishes. Didn’t that Jack guy from Lowell get pretty famous too?


        • Bill writes:

          But Jack lived with his mom till the end…

          • Vasilios writes:

            I’ve got some work to do before I become like Jack. Jack was thrown out of every bar in Lowell. I’ve only been thrown out of one.

        • Vasilios writes:

          Man, who hasn’t been in love with a Vasilios from Athens?

          How inspiring! That’s funny, the accompanying pianist for my voice class at Holy Cross was from Lowell…

          Happy endings are good. Positivity might even be vital. Michael Jordan said that a key element of his success was his refusal to allow any negative thoughts to enter his head. He said that when shooting, the thought that he might miss never even crossed his mind.

          But then again, I’m most inspired when I’m down in the dumps. So what’s the trick? Maybe compartmentalizing your brain so that you can hold on to the angst, while believing something good will definitely come out of it?

          Deep thoughts…

        • Debora writes:

          Oh, he lost the girl…how passionate it must have been, though, to live inside all of that beautiful music.

  6. Kristen writes:

    This may qualify as bad advice, but having watched my husband hold a steady job while writing four novels (in a row, not at the same time), I say, Quit your job and go for what your heart desires while you’re still young, healthy, energetic, and don’t have a family or other financial commitments to worry about. Otherwise, the odds are good that you’ll regret never having taken the chance when you still could.

    • Vasilios writes:

      Ah, Kristen, there’s nothing I’d love more in the world! You’re right, I don’t have familial obligations, but unfortunately, I think I’m about to have more financial ones. My car died for the millionth time, so it’s time to invest in a new(er) one. I also went to the dentist today, and he said I have to get my wisdom teeth removed and strongly recommended I look into Invisalign treatment. Greaaaat.

      So health insurance and steady income is kind of a must, at least for the near future.


      As Tony Horton says, “Nobody SAID this was easy!”

      But thanks so much for taking some time to comment. It means a lot to me!

  7. Kisha writes:


    If you know your heart, you have no choice but to follow it. The universe conspires to help you achieve your dreams. If it feels like the job is holding you back, it is! That soul-sucking feeling is a sign that you aren’t doing something right. Our parents and grandparents made huge sacrifices so that we could take these chances, and I’m sure they would rather see us happy than miserably wealthy. We owe it not only to ourselves; not to our parents; but also to those who are not so fortunate as to be in the position where they have a chance to do something they love. I can’t tell you from experience that you’ll be glad you did every second, because that’s just not the case, but you’ll never regret trying. “‘what’ and ‘if’ the two least threatening words in the English language, but put them together and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.” If this is the only life we’re going to get here on Earth, then why not show your creator that you’re grateful for it and refuse to waste it.

    I say jump.



    • Vasilios writes:

      Oh, Kisha,

      Thanks so much for your lovely note. Again you show your quality! I’ve felt that same sentiment about my grandparents coming here. Though their misgivings, they did come here so there would be a future for their descendants.

      I have no doubt that I will jump maybe in a few months, maybe next year, when my bills (about to get more numerous) settle down a little. If they don’t, eff it, I’ll jump anyway.

      I really need a really rich relative I never knew of and who admired me from afar to die. Like, quick. In the meantime, I won’t be wasting my time. I’ll be writing my balls off.

      When are we starting that book, girl?