A Post About Breaking and Repairing My Own Dreams

(I think this post wins for cheesiest post title. I know it’s stupid, but I can’t think of anything better right now, so deal with it).

For Darnoc, Bringer of Darkness

A friend of mine is having a bit of a tough time, so I thought I’d write about a time when I was feeling like he is now. Be prepared for a story that starts out pretty braggy, and getssort of self-pitying in the middle. Don’t say I didn’t warn y’alls.

From the time I could speak, my favourite game was what my mother calls “I’ll be Jasmine, you be Genie.” Basically, rather than play with dolls and making them act out stories, I would make my parents or babysitter or whoever else would humour me act out scenes from my favourite movies. I sang “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid at my school’s talent show in grade 1. Basically, I loved performing from a very young age.

When I was 7, I was in my first musical, How to Eat Like a Child. I adored it, and was in a show every year for the next 3 years, switched to choirs instead, but did a few more musicals in later years. I hate to brag here, but to get you properly into my mindframe for the latter part of this story, I should point out that I usually had lead roles, and if I didn’t, it was because I was the youngest in a group of people who were all at least a few years older than I was. I got used to feeling special, and had never experienced rejection.

Now here’s the thing: I can sing pretty well, I’m a mediocre (but serviceable, sometimes) actor, but I can’t dance to save my life. How did I get into so many shows you ask? Well, when I was a kid, skill in dancing wasn’t as necessary, and in later years, I could usually squeeze in for my singing, or play roles where dancing was less prominent. I had been encouraged to take lessons in singing/acting/dancing, but couldn’t really see the point. I hated dancing, and I could still get into shows without it, so why would I pay to embarrass myself? Especially since it got harder to find super beginner classes as I got older. And, I admit, I thought I was pretty good on my own, and that I was learning all I needed to from my choirs about singing. After I sang in that talent show, my grade 1 teacher told me I should get lessons, and I assured her that I was good enough without them. I guess I never quite lost that cocky 7 year old self.

So as time went on, I liked doing a lot of things, but my passion lay with musical theatre. When it came time to start applying for university, I decided that nothing could really make me happy the way that theatre could, so with my parents’ support, I decided to go for it. I applied to a few theatre schools in Canada, as well as the musical theatre program at NYU. I was pretty sure that I could “at least” get into Ryerson, if I couldn’t get into the school in New York, which is where my heart was set. I took the SAT (and did pretty well on the reading/writing, not so much on the math), I sought professional assistance to choose material and prepare for my auditions. In February, my Dad and I went to New York and I auditioned for one of the entomologists from Silence of the Lambs. I felt pretty good about it, and hell, even if I didn’t get it, I did an audition in New York, which is pretty cool on its own. Inside though, no matter how many times I told myself that, I desperately wanted “to go to there.” I loved the program, the school, the location, just… everything. So then I just had to wait.

A few weeks after that audition, I went to Ryerson in Toronto, where they had group auditions for the theatre program. Seeing the sorts of people I was up against, I realized that I had nothing on them. It was the first cold, hard splash of reality, especially after I’d flubbed one of my pieces out of nervousness. I went home, put on a sad episode of Buffy and then cried for 45 minutes straight. I was upset that I wasn’t hot shit like I thought I was, but the fact that I did it to myself just made it so much worse. I had so many opportunities to train, to learn more, but I never did because of my own stupid cockiness and pride. Because of over confidence in my own abilities, I wouldn’t be able to do what I loved. So I was embarrassed and frustrated and angry, and couldn’t envision what the future held. I had no idea what I would do.

Needless to say, I didn’t get into any of the theatre schools I wanted. Luckily I had applied to some schools that don’t require auditions, including my mother’s Alma Mater, which is where I ended up. I applied for Drama, I think, but quickly re-thought that when I got Bs in first year drama class. I couldn’t even minor in drama as a result. On top of that, I had some relapses into self-pity when I couldn’t get into musicals at school. I had really though I had a chance at those too, but again, I just didn’t quite measure up. I now have friends in the drama program who are doing shows all the time, and I’d be lying if I said that no small part of me twinges with jealousy when info about their shows pops up in my Facebook NewsFeed from time to time. It’s not crippling self-pitying jealousy, but a sort of wistful sigh will escape my lips if I’m feeling morose.

Thankfully, my story has a happy ending. I’m doing so much more writing than I ever have before, and I’m loving it. I’m majoring in English, and just got a scholarship for third year English students, so I guess I’m doing pretty well. I’m seriously considering becoming an entertainment critic, which would put me only a degree or two of separation away from the actors doing what I always wanted to do. I’m still singing with a choir, so my life isn’t devoid of performance. I’m really happy with the way things turned out and I really don’t see this as “giving up on my dreams,” of which I was accused by one or two theatre types when I decided to ditch theatre for books. My brother is now the age I was when I was trying to do theatre, and part of him still longs to be a rockstar. I really hope that he can take his own path and find something that will make him happy too. And I wish that two years ago I could have known I’d end up here. I’ve been coasting along for years, but I hope that now that I’ve sorted out what I want to do (or come close), that I can take some control and steer the ship more.

I thought for a while that I’d really screwed myself over there, and part of me will always regret not doing more to further my potential theatrical career. But now I think I’m working to something different and better for me, and it feels awesome.

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1 Comment

  1. This made me smile

    Reply

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