Things I Never Believed I Could Do
I'm no stranger to getting stuck in should's and never-could's. I constantly feel behind, and talk myself out of believing and beginning.
We're all just people, out here. We're all struggling with old beliefs and using some media thing as a deterrent for starting or continuing something that makes us come alive. But there's a way to zoom out, in gratitude, for the beliefs we've already changed for ourselves.
The (Sure To Be Incomplete) List of Things I Never Believed I Could Do:
It's true. I did one audition for Tokyo Disney (in which we also had to stand in rows while Disney reps walked around us, analyzing our body and facial features--great first audition experience), held at my competitive dance studio while I was still in high school. Not only did I get cut, but my good friend got kept to the end, after which they promptly told her she would have to lose 2 inches off her waist, contractually. "That's it," I thought. "All my dance training led to this moment and it's totally f**ked". I was an insecure kid in a competition dance bubble. When your perspective of the world is narrow, the smallest setback by industry standards seems like the ultimate drama.
It took me 2 years of dabbling in first year non-dance college courses and summoning my deepest bravery and self acceptance, just to get back in the game. And so began my journey through auditions, visas, head shots, body care, and learning to sing. Being a professional dancer subverted every expectation I ever had, but I still had the delight and honor of performing on hundreds of stages for decent pay.
Live in New York or LA
Really, not until I was walking through the streets between my first subway rides, did I start to believe I could live in NYC. I had heard peers talk about the New York dance/theatre scene passionately, and had no desire to pursue that track because there was simply no way I could be good enough to do that. I basically got dragged there by my ex, and for that I'm thankful. LA was similarly intimidating, even after living in New York for years. I didn't think I had the 'look' or the clothes, or the neck stability...all excuses for just being afraid of the unknown. Turns out, LA is like any other city: it has perks (sunny days, cheaper classes) and drawbacks (traffic, superficial interactions). But when I was 15 and visited for the first time... all the winding freeways and wispy palms felt like a dream to me.
Sing. Act. Draw. Write.
These battles are well-documented... I'm still improving in all four but I've made steps toward doing three of them professionally, while stirring up a lot of much needed creative joy with the fourth, so it's going better than I could have imagined.
Be In A Healthy Relationship
A lot to potentially unpack there... but all I'll say about it is I think "We accept the love we think we deserve," is a true statement (Perks of Being A Wallflower is where I heard it first). And by a kind of reckoning with myself on what I deserved, I stumbled upon a relationship that surprises me every day, after 5 years, with a depth of kindness, patience, and joy I didn't believe was possible before. Even today, I am in awe.
Make a decent living for myself & create a modest dream home.
Get called back for Broadway shows. Go back to school.
The point is... we are in a lot of sh*t we're not sure how to navigate. Our beliefs in ourselves, our health, and our communities are being challenged more and more every day. I have not the faintest clue of how to rise above, or even remotely help this pandemic situation. I just know that we've already done a lot of things we didn't always believe we could do. I don't know what the other side of this looks like. I honestly don't know how to get through most days without a nap or a good cry, or both. But you have to start somewhere. Please, take care of yourselves. Please reach out to the people you're thinking about. Please continue to share your stories with the world: stories of loss and grief and recovery and messy, difficult uncertainty. Please keep digging into community outreach and acts of kindness. Please consider believing that things can improve... individually and systemically. There's a lot we can do with a little grounded belief in the world.