"If you can do anything else, do it."
I always hated this statement. I found it condescending. Dismissive. Not compassionate to those with a passion to create. I believe the world needs more artists, not less.
But artists need to also be realists.
So my version is this:
Prepare yourself to do something else
Because (unless you are a trust fund baby) you will have to.
A life in the arts is a marathon. There WILL be times you are not able to work, you won't be in a fiscal position to make, create, participate.
This is a fact.
I have framed pictures, sold wallpaper, waitressed (of course), managed a small antique store, been a bank teller, telemarketer, the list goes on. Scratch any non-family-money artist and you will find a nurse, computer programmer, cook, barista, store manager, travel agent, EMT, construction worker, bank teller, website designer, teacher, hair stylist, copy writer, this list goes on too.
And this is okay. It is! Just know going in that this is part of the package.
So take the extra classes.
Don't take only theatre/painting/music classes. But also squeeze in business. Science. Math. And pay attention.
Because not only will it not take away from your art, it will add to it!
The concepts will empower your insight into the world; give you the freedom to say no to crappy, soul-sucking "opportunities," and make you much more interesting to be around at dinner parties.
Yes, we all want to be that one artist that hits right away. The Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep, you know the ones. The funny thing is, from what I can tell, that even if you are...down the line, there will be times when you are unemployed. It's just the nature of the beast. A project you are booked for goes south. Parents need you home for support. You suddenly become not the next-big-thing.
So learn how to do "anything else."
And then prepare to do both!