Do what you love, what makes you truly happy. Life really is too short to do otherwise.
One of my friends is a painter. She waitresses at a little cafe in the mornings so she can paint the rest of the day (which she makes money at also). She doesn't want different job as it would muck up her painting life.
Being an artist is possible... and you don't have to starve. Maybe look for a part time admin gig? Or something low-key like at a university.
It sounds like there could be no better time for you to try pursuing juggling professionally. If this isn't a sign, I don't know what would be. My personal recommendation would be to put some effort into looking for a new jobby-job after your current one ends -- this could also be a great opportunity for you to be really selective about that and not go after anything less than ideal -- and really focus on juggling. It's something you obviously love doing and you're exceptionally talented at it (whenever I see other contact jugglers I compare them to you, and am rarely impressed), you might as well give it a serious shot while you can. If nothing else, it would be an experience like none other, and you'll never wonder later whether maybe you should have tried it after all.
If ever there were a time to chase your dreams rather than a "job", this economy is it. If you have the resources to swing it, I say give it a go.
I think you should pursue juggling, and when you have time look for work that would help support you *AND* your juggling. Be picky about employment, but keep your eyes and ears open for a part-time opportunity that might be a perfect fit. Of course, in this economy it's unlikely, but it can't hurt to have an open mind.
You're an amazing performer, do what you love.
All that said, I know that up here you have to be looking for work to receive unemployment benefits, so be careful about that part.
Actually (and I need to do a bit more research to find out how this works) there is also an allowance to collect unemployment while you are trying to start your own business. I believe that this would qualify, so would fulfill my requirements to keep collecting even while not searching for a new job. I think.
Milk it and don't think twice.
Ask Gecko about the whole 'starting a business' angle; I believe The Boy is doing just this.
Seriously, you're a kickass juggler and you have every bit of what it takes to do that for a living, except time. You're about to get some time. Use it. Juggling is your love and your passion and your talent. Don't stash yourself back in a little computer box, because that's SO not where you want to be.
Just don't get stuck in the rut of nothing but WoW 24/7. It's easy to do.
You're good enough. Unfortunately, being good enough isn't enough. But it sounds like you might be able to pull it off. Best of luck if you decide to give it a shot!
I was laid off in September and it wasn't until February that I found a 3 month contract position for a lot less money than I was making before and further away.
The professional entertainers I know are hurting in a bad way, too. One of them hasn't had a cruise ship gig in a year. Corporate parties and other events have cut back in big ways, too. He'd be out in the streets if one of his relatives hadn't given him a place to stay rent free.
You have what it takes to be a professional juggler, but the job market for entertainment may be even worse for entertainers than IT right now. If you stick to the Portland area, you'd be competing for gigs with a lot of existing professional entertainers.
I'd say, go ahead and use the time to beef up your juggling skills, put together a website, video and marketing materials. Those are things that are tough to do when business is flourishing. At the same time, put your resume on Dice.com and check that and Indeed.com daily that way if a juicy IT job comes along you can grab it.
The best result would be to have your juggling materials and show ready to go, get a tech job to tide you over, and then when the economy swings back into gear, you'll be ready to book your juggling show and quit the tech job.
Yeah, what she said!
The performers I know aren't working - and the folks I know that HIRE entertainers aren't working either. It's a rough market all around.
Double and triple check that there's a business start-up allowance for Oregon unemployment too. I know that California makes no such exceptions. Fortunately I'm incorporated and it's very easy not to pay myself at the moment - otherwise I'd be in real trouble.
Now that I'm settled in a place I'm working about a 15 hour a week support position thru Odesk.com at a good hourly rate, and spending the rest of my time getting myjewely/chain work up and running. So far I'm tickled pink. Take a look at freelancers.com... all sorts of resources for people making a go at the self employement thing, probably even including juggling:)
I think it's really important to passionately pursue what you love to do. It's just also really hard to be starving, as you previously posted. So, put all your heart and energy into what you want/love to do. Just have an agreement with yourself to not judge yourself if you can't pull it off, due to the economy. And maybe give yourself a specific date or time when you find a part time job to supplement or something?
I'm all for going for the thing you want, AND having a plan if it doesn't go quite the way I want...
Good luck, honey. This is awesome and a big deal, but also scary.
I think we should all be most concerned, of course, with how this will affect ME.