It's also definitely inspiring. And it's certainly fun to read about!
Furthermore, as a fellow college-dropout BT said to me, "I don't think I deserve credit for becoming frum. I didn't have anything else in life anyway. But those people who had fully built successful lives and then left it all? THAT'S impressive! THAT'S real mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice)!"
And I have to agree.
Particularly those who came from careers that are impossible to duplicate in their former full secular glory within the frum community (i.e. female singers, dancers and actors of either gender, models, etc.) They do have an outlet within the frum community, but it's not at all the same.
So they deserve enormous credit for making such a life-upending decision -- all because Hashem said so. And because of that, they also bring a hefty zechut (merit) to the Heavenly Scales for all of us.
But there's another side to it that gets ignored.
Why Kashering "Treif" isn't Enough
I've seen people go back into their art or profession before they're spiritually ready.
And depending on the expression demanded in that art form or profession, they end up doing a "kashered" version of their former role -- with all ego, lack of tsnius, compromised integrity, and invented loopholes this sometimes entails.
For example, I once observed a person who'd become frum via their spouse, but still had a lot of issues with certain aspects of Judaism. Not yet comfortable with even very nice people in the frum community, the person still sought out secular colleagues, associates, and clients who wouldn't spot the religious inconsistencies in this person's behavior and attitude. The problem was this person's form of self-expression and profession kept this person firmly in the limelight and the world of eye-catching self-promotion and competition.
The kashered version of the profession did do some good, but as far as I could tell, the person and the person's family were paying a price.
Leaping out as a role model or representative of Torah spirituality is a problem when one is not internally there yet.
This doesn't (and can't) mean inner perfection.
But if your profession or art keeps you in the public eye and/or within an anti-Torah framework, then it's good to take a long stride back from it if at all possible.
Art Wrapped in Trash
Every art form today is soaked with heresy, Eastern mysticism, immoral idealization, and a road to success that is paved with halachically forbidden or problematic "musts" -- and not because of the art itself, but because of the culture that has grown around it and the methods or equipment deemed necessary to express this art on a professional and award-winning level.
And lot of other roles and careers suffer the same kind of corruption.
Therefore, rather than genuine soul-expression, a lot of frum expression seeks to imitate the secular expression with a kosher version of the secular embodiment.
This is a process, of course. And one needn't wait one's whole life before feeling ready to do re-engage. But at the same time, it's also good to take a break (IF possible) from external expression. Meaning, one can write or paint or sing for oneself until one is solidly ready to present to the public.
Obviously, performance-oriented expression demands an audience, and this becomes more complicated when taking a break from it all to regroup oneself. (I honestly wouldn't know what to suggest for, say, actors or emcees or speakers.)
Also, if your sole source of livelihood derives from this profession, then that throws another wrench into things.
If a person risks impoverishment by taking a break, then that has to be handled differently than a person whose art serves as non-parnassa self-expression.
Soul Expression or Imitation?
The individual situations vary so much in their details and consequences that I don't see where hardline advice fits in.
But I do feel that IF possible (IF!!!), it's good to take a LONG break in order to get in touch with your genuine soul needs and expression.
And if you find that break imposed on you by external circumstances, you can feel good about it and feel the blessing in it (even if you also feel frustrated too).
(That's kind of what happened to me.)
Yes, it might look like missed opportunities or failures, but it's really an opportunity to regroup your inner self. Other people might also pressure you to get back into things in a superficially kosher way or you might feel a little lost as you grope around to adjust to the new and deeper you.
But I can't help what I've observed.
I have seen people jump back in too soon and it doesn't seem so healthy, spiritually speaking.
You don't want to be a superficially kosher imitation of secular art or non-Jewish roles.
You want your soul to have nourishment and expression for its real essence.
(But at the same time, please remember that no one can be perfect about this and it is a process with all the ups and downs of any spiritual process.)