Whenever someone asks me what I do, I never know what to say.
You see, I lived my life for 20 something years knowing who I am and what I wanted to do.
That is, at least I thought I did.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a performer. I grew up in the world of ballet and dressing up in pretty costumes and pink ballet shoes was the most magical thing for a 8 year old. When I started middle school, my pink tutus turned in to petticoats and character heels. Something just felt so right about musicals; combining my love of music, dance, and acting became the perfect trifecta. Ask anyone who knew me growing up, they’ll say I was always performing. It was a part of my DNA, the essence of my being.
It came to no surprise that I continued this passion throughout high school. I’ll never forget the day I got cast as the leading role in my freshman musical. I had braces, awkward eyebrows, and couldn’t quite master the art of social contact. But none of that mattered.
Everything just felt so…right.
I thought I was going to shit my pants on opening night. Sure, rehearsals were fine, but when you’re thrown out in front of a live audience, the adrenaline is so consuming. There’s nothing quite like it.
By the time college rolled around, there was no second option. I had to pursue theatre. I just had to. I mean, what else was there to do? I ended up traveling to the middle of nowhere in Illinois to be a part of a BFA Acting program. At this point in my life, I felt like things were heading in the right direction.
Boy, was I wrong
The start of my sophomore year there, something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t quite pin point the reason, but I knew I had to get out of there. I packed my bags and left without looking back.
There I was, back in my old room. Pictures from high school and the glory days filled my wall. Memories of being a big fish in a small pond felt like light years ago and the awkward, skinny girl in those photos were barely recognizable to me.
I spent the next ten months of my life feeling empty and without purpose. I worked at a restaurant, tore my ACL, became depressed, took a lot of medication, and tried as much as I could to feel…something. Anything at this point.
By October, I thought I’d give theatre another try and flew two thousand miles across the country to New York City. Surely if I wanted to make it, this was the place. I attended a conservatory and for the next year and a half, I did nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe musical theatre. It wasn’t easy, and I nearly quit several times, but seventeen months later, I was out in the real world. Within weeks of finishing the conservatory, I landed the job of a lifetime. Little did I know that job would change my life forever.
I was hired to work at a Broadway show and attend to audience members’ every need. I didn’t care, I was on Broadway.
Well, sort of.
This was it. This was where I needed to be.
I watched rehearsals, heard all the gossip, partied alongside A-list celebrities. The entire run was a blur, and I drank a lot. Within that short time, I met some of the most incredibly talented performers, had my heart broken what felt like a hundred times, and learned about the business I had intended to pursue.
I grew close to one of the actors in the show and got to see first hand how difficult the business was. He inspired me and showed me that there was more to life than performing.
There was a real world out there and I needed to explore.
He inspired me to see the world. Within a year, I traveled to three different countries, volunteering my time and exploring new cultures. I saw beyond the stage lights and experienced thrills I’d never felt. The adrenaline kicked in, and I savored every sweet moment.
Riding Elephants in Thailand,
climbing Lion’s Head in South Africa,
walking on glaciers in Iceland.
I felt like a new person, like I had been awakened for the first time.
Not only was I inspired to see the world, but I aspired to better myself academically. I enrolled back in college, determined to finish what I started and get my degree.
So I did.
I put my memories of pink tights and tap shoes away in a box, and replaced theatre posters with maps of the world and trinkets from my adventures. It just didn’t feel right to keep pursuing theatre. I’d lost that passion and joy. Looking at those photos from high school, I didn’t recognize that awkward girl, but I admired her for following her passion.
I didn’t know where my journey will lead, but here I stand, ready to graduate.
It’s a strange feeling, you know, not knowing what lies ahead. All my life I’ve been determined to do one thing, and now I’m about to be thrown in to the big wide world with limitless possibilities and no idea what I’ll achieve.
But that’s what is so great about life, you can start over at any minute.
I have no regrets about walking away from my first love, it allowed me to become the woman I am today: strong, independent, and fierce on the dance floor.
So go ahead, take me world.
Take me on this crazy journey, and let’s see where I end up. I’m starting my life over and I couldn’t be more excited.