Would You Like Your Judgement in Paper or Plastic?

08/18/2014 06:24 pm ET Updated Oct 18, 2014

My name is Meghan and I live in North Carolina. I come from a middle class family. I have a college degree. I am 27 years old and I work in a grocery store. This has turned out to be a very confusing concept for some people. I am not retired, looking for on outlet to keep me busy. I am not a high school student, having my parents drive me to my first job. I am not under educated with few employment choices. I am an actress in need of a day job with flexible hours and I choose to work as customer service assistant in a grocery store.

I realized when I chose acting as a career path that it was an unconventional route. While still attending college, I was accustomed to the following conversation:

"I'm a student in college."

"What is your major?"

"Musical Theater"

"Oh?! What are you going to do with that?"

"You know...wait tables."

(Cue uncomfortable, nervous laughter)

After college I moved to an area where film and TV are a major part of the local economy. A place where there are many young actors, crew, hair/makeup, wardrobe people have day jobs to supplement their income. I thought such conversations were over. This was not the case.

One of the most memorable instances was when I was treated to an impromptu round of 20 questions with a customer confused by my employment choice.

"Are you in high school?"




"Because you just graduated and moved back home for the summer"


"Hmm. Do you have any children?"


"So you've chosen to work in a grocery store?"

"Yes. I'm trying to pursue acting and..."


I guess saying that I was an actress was a satisfying enough answer for him. But even as condescending as that conversation was, I do give him credit for at least trying to understand where I was coming from. Most just assume I fell back on this job because I have fallen on hard times.

As a resident of the south, one becomes comfortable with religion being a part of everyday life. It's normal to hear "have a blessed day" or "bless your/his/her heart." I have even used the latter phrase to accompany a piece of gossip. But never have people felt the need to save my soul more than when I became employed with a grocery chain (and I went to Catholic school). It is a rare day where I am not told "you know Jesus loves you?" or "I'll pray for you." I could fill a drawer with the number of prayer cards given to me saying "lost souls can be saved," "He will raise you from perdition" and "He will end your suffering." I didn't realize I asking if you prefer paper or plastic bags was code for my life I a mess, please help me!

Alright, so I may not be able to afford to dine out every night. I can't afford a girl's weekend vacay at the cape. But I wouldn't call having a night in with a bottle of wine and some Netflix suffering. I don't eat steak and lobster. But on a cold, rainy night grilled cheese and tomato soup can feel jut as luxurious. There is no need to pass the offering plate for me. Do not create a foundation in my name for 20 something struggling artists. I chose my path knowing it may be one less traveled. This may make me an enigma and make it harder for you to file and categorize me (sorry for the extra paperwork). But reflect on my favorite line from a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien:
"Not all those who wander are lost."

I am not a damsel in distress. And while the route I have chosen may be a mountain pass, you are more than welcome to wander it with me. Just leave your filing cabinet at home.