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How to Run Away and Join the Circus

Kristin Finley breathed life into an idiom and actually ran off to join the circus.

Finley was incredibly successful working for a brewery in Los Angeles: great pay, 401(k), full benefits, Lexus and home ownership by 24. One day, one of her friends told her she was taking a trapeze course. Something about the idea of flying through the air while relying on your own strength to both launch and catch yourself struck a chord with Finley, and she had to go watch her friend’s class. Before she knew it, she was in the class herself, and after that, she was staring down the thing she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Spoiler alert—it wasn’t the brewery.

The sense of power and control trapeze gave Finley was intoxicating. She traded her Lexus for an RV and the salary and benefits for a life on the road with the circus. It’s been 15 years, and she’s never looked back.

We all have hobbies we love, but how do you give up a life that afforded you the stability to enjoy your hobby to make the hobby your career? Finley says it was as simple as life being exactly and only what you make it. For Finley, life needed to be about the feeling of adrenaline from the trapeze, the personal commitment to both the circus lifestyle and the trapeze craft, the razor’s-edge nature of self-doubt that could cripple a show or the artists themselves—not the stability of a more traditional career. The “how” was as easy as: “By doing it.”


1290 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

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