Since the tender age of four years old, I’ve always had a clear vision of what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I always, without a shred of doubt, wanted to be an actress.
Many of my earliest memories involve performing staggering renditions of” Twinkle, Twinkle” and Natalie Cole sungs to strangers at various eateries. My first role on stage was as a Villager in at around age 8. I had the first line in our angry villager sung (” Bring a dish of boiled fish and bring it right away !”) and in each of our performances over that weekend I was to shout it out to my obviously adoring fans.
Performing on stage “ve given me”, the little girl who had always felt like too much, a place to feel just right. I wasn’t too loud on stage, I was projecting and my vocal power was impressive. I wasn’t exaggerating when I was acting, I was being animated and making bold choices. I was never too much in the theatre, I was right at home.
Acting, being an actress, was one of the first things I ever felt actually, really good at.
So naturally, I feel in love with it. It was all I truly wanted to do. While other kids were memorizing pop anthems and obsessing over Hollister or American Eagle, I would learn every lyric to Stephen Schwartz musicals and peruse Discount Dance for new leg warmers or Capezio heels. I was school play after school play, was in so many indicates at my local community theater I probably should’ve paid them rent. I landed my first professional gig at 17 and was on the exact way to not only be voted Most Likely To Be Famous( which I was) but actually achieve it.
The dreams didn’t stop in college either, but grew and grew and grew. I doubled majored in theatre and music and over the course of 4 and a half years, racked up not one , not two, but over 20 different roles to my name. I had regional credits, community credits, the educational credits. Everything on the surface seemed to be lining up for me to go into that magical big ocean that is the acting world and take it by storm.
But that’s the thing about the surface. While it was possible to time-stepping and smiling with a full face of stage makeup on the outside, that doesn’t mean that it’s accurately portraying what’s bubbling on the inside.
The thing about theatre for me, and the dreams that trailed along with it, is that it without question attained me happy. Musical theatre to this day punches me in my gut and electrifies me like nothing else in this world can.
But being happy and being fulfilled are not the same thing. Not at
So while I was happy because I was living my quote unquote “dream”, I admittedly wasn’t fulfilled. Everything about that life was my dreaming, absolutely.
Until it wasn’t.
Being a musician constructed me indisputably happy, yes. But there was always a part of me that failed to feel fully fulfilled from merely being an actress.
I’m a very analytical person. I love solving problems and coordinating things and figuring out not only how things work, but how to construct them While singing out Stephen Sondheim lyrics was thrilling, it wasn’t challenging in a way that induced “i m feeling” whole. I may not are in a position to pin point exactly what it was at the time, but I distinguish now that I always felt like I wasn’t fulling stretching myself and pushing myself by exclusively seeking acting.
It all came to a head when I moved to a big city after graduating in order to pursue the dreaming I not only had, but it seemed like all persons who knew me had me. I was doing it. It being the living the romantic life of living in converted one bedroom apartment so I could have a roommate and taking hour bus rides to auditions and staring at backstage.com on my computer that didn’t work unless it was plugged in.
I recollect vividly the working day I knew I was over it. I had booked a callback for a indicate I was probably perfect for, the director was ecstatic about me, it was a paid gig. Everything on paper was astonishing and I should have been wildly thrilled with the opportunity.
But I merely wasn’t.
There’s an old, well-known saying in regards to creative careers that if you can do anything else, you should. That if you don’t love it with your whole heart, you shouldn’t keep doing it. That if you don’t fully want to commit to that life with your whole heart, you should stop.
So I stopped.
I boxed up the tap shoes and the character shoes, filed away my sheet music, recycled the headshots I no longer had use for, and to set it bluntly, discontinue. For the first time since I was a kid I didn’t have an answer to the question,” What do you want to do ?”
The thing about dreams and aspirations that can be difficult to understand is that when they start to control your life, they’re not actually a good thing. When you become so focused on pursuing this one thing, this one dream, it can be route too easy to ignore everything else that’s around you. Your singular dreaming shouldn’t be hindering you from living a dynamic life.
For me, that’s what was happening. I was growing past theatre, but continuing to be in it because I felt like I was ” supposed to .” I would think about the expensive headshots and the college classes and all of the time I spent and how proud my mothers were of me and I felt like I had to this not because I wanted to, but because I was expected to. I was sticking it out not because there was nothing else in the world I wanted to do, but because I felt like all eyes were on me and wanted me to make it. And in doing so, I was completely dismissing that there were other things I could do with my life and be not only happy, but fulfilled.
But at 25, after ceasing the career of my dreams and instead watching the first essay I’d submitted to a website go viral, I had a realization.
Your dreamings are allowed to change. Your aspirations are allowed to evolve. And you are allowed to grow with them.
There’s absolutely no way of knowing what would have happened if I would have stayed in the theatre world. And I’d be lying if seeing reveals on Broadway doesn’t make me feel a twinge of nostalgia and a little sadness that my days are no longer filled with harmonizing and monologuing.
But if I would have stayed in that world, I would never have found the world I’m in now. A weird world online where the majority of members of my co-workers are in different nations but I not only feel fulfilled with what I do, I feel exceptionally good at it. I’ve determined a route where I get to not only utilize my creative side every single day, but I’m also constantly flexing that analytical more technological side of myself that had been dormant for so many years. It’s because I gave up my dream that I was able to find another.
The thing I think we have to understand as we navigate the bizarre aspect of life that is growing up is that following your dreams isn’t necessarily going to be a linear process. It’s filled with spins and turn, and sometimes a complete derailment. But that’s not a failing on your part. It means you know yourself well enough to listen to what your intestine is telling you and trusting yourself.
And that’s something worth dreaming about.
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