Song lyrics from the Walt Disney Classic Tale, Cinderella – I don’t believe truer words have ever been sung . “If you keep on believing- the dream that you wish will come true.” Never stop believing. Even if it looks tough – don’t stop believing. The outcome may look bleak – don’t stop believing. You may be afraid – but never stop believing…in yourself…or your dreams.
That was my problem – I stopped believing. I let my insecurities and fears stop me from chasing my dreams. Let naysayers talk me out of going after what I knew was rightfully mine. I gave up. I’m an artiste, always has been – a lover of the arts – a performer at heart. It’s the essence of who I am as an individual. There’s no other place I thrive more than when I’m on the stage. I float into the abyss of freedom and bliss and return to earth once my moment is done. Many people have said that when I perform I don’t appear to be present – as if I’ve gone to another place – cloud nine in a sense. And it’s very true. I come alive on the stage, I’m maximized on the stage, I’m invincible when I’m on the stage. That’s why all of my life I wanted to be a performer – more specifically, a Broadway performer. I love musical theatre. I love the exuberance, the glam, the energy, the transparency of musical theatre. NO cameras, no lights, no do-overs… it’s raw…it’s real… it’s magical! And when I was 12 years old I made up in my mind that when I graduated from high-school I was moving to New York City to pursue my dream of Broadway.
So now I’m 27… and have never stepped foot in the concrete jungle…what happened??
Life happened…insecurities happened…naysayers happened… fear flooded my veins and stifled my confidence…that’s what happened. I’ve always had a weight problem, and it never hindered my dancing, but it haunted me when I looked in the mirror. My performance video tapes clearly showed I had the grace of a swan when I danced, the fluidity of a butterfly, the vocals of a beast…but the mirror said something entirely different to me. And so did the media…so did my ‘friends,’… so did the skinny little ballerinas that eyeballed me when I’d enter the dance studio, as if I wasn’t worthy enough to be there. All of these memories haunted me, and then a year passed, and another, and then another – and next thing I knew, not only had I been sucked into a desk job in Corporate America, I was no longer performing – only teaching – and I was 100 lbs. heavier, and 10 years older. Standing on the outside looking in – going to performances and fighting the gut wrenching hatred toward myself for not going after my dream when I had the chance – not being the one on the stage at that very moment, but sitting in the audience as a spectator rather than thriving on the stage as the performer that I am.
Is it too late? For dance I’d say probably so – for performing, no… it’s never too late. But now I’m at the starting line again, and this time I have to get this 100 lb. blanket of emotional eating, stress, and depression off of me, while building my vocals back to where they were in their prime, retraining my body to the fluidity I once knew, and regaining the confidence to walk onto a stage and command it like I used to. How long will that take? God only knows… maybe that’s what stops me too. Fear that once I’ve gotten back to where I should…it’ll be too late. I’ll be too old. Now I know you must be thinking that 27 is far from old, but in the performing world – you’re time is up at 30…maybe 32. Then it becomes much harder to break into an industry designed for the younger more agile performers.
I don’t know…
But if nothing more comes of this I’ve taken my mistakes from this journey and revamped them into the energy I expend pushing my mentees to fight for their dreams. As much as possible I tell them how good they are, that they can make it and succeed – I keep pumping positivity into their subconscious so that the constant negativity of outside forces won’t overtake them like it did me. I deem myself the “Treasure Hunter” … when I see artistic potential in a young person, I try to take them under my wing, nurture that gift, get them in contact with the right people that’ll help it grow, and then push them into their gifting as far as they can go. I’ve gotten very good at it … because at the base of it all I want is to spare them from ever feeling the same pangs of regret about what they didn’t do when they had the chance.
Will I still make performing my life? Most definitely. It may not be in the way I envisioned when I was 12 years old, but some way somehow, I will return to the stage again, and when I do, they’ll have to carry me off and lock me out to make me give it up!