If you had told me almost two years ago (it will be two in February) that I was going to be off work for TWO years – I probably would’ve freaked out, and grasped for as many projects as I could fill my life with. Even at the time when I decided to take a year off, a part of me wasn’t convinced that I would fully be able to commit to an ENTIRE year of not working in the performing arts industry. You see, ever since I was 5 years old I have been a part of singing, productions, performing, auditioning and later on, producing and directing. What would I do with my time, if I wasn’t going to be doing what I had always done?
I remember meeting with a friend shortly before I made my decision to take a break. This friend, with an honest and sincere heart, looked at me and said: “You need to be on stage – THAT is your gift.” To be perfectly honest, a part of me still wonders if that is truly where I belong. It has been a difficult and often confusing journey. I used to be enamoured and captured by a particular vision for my life, which I have recently set aside, like a shirt that no longer fits. As I was jogging yesterday, I was reflecting on just how painful it can be to think about my ‘old life’. I cast my vision back in time, recalling the sheer joy that I would experience when getting to perform. As I ran, the inevitable lump in my throat snuck up on me. Why did it hurt so much to think about what I was missing? And why did my current life seem like such a weak alternative to my memories?
Then it dawned on me. Often, when I reflect on my past and my unrealized dreams, I believe…no…I’m convinced, that the joy I experienced and could experience if I pursued my ‘dreams’ once again, would somehow be greater, sweeter, and more fulfilling than the joy I experience in my present situation; my more ‘ordinary’ life. The only problem with that type of thinking is that often the snapshot I use of my ‘old life’ only includes the most wonderful, most thrilling parts of my pursuit, without the gritty reality of all that goes along with the industry I was in.
Having a dream is important. However, even more important is a realistic understanding of all that that goes along with your pursuit. Yes, there are great joys that came with pursuing my dream, but there were also great sacrifices. The missing of important family holidays or special occasions, the impossible task of singing with laryngitis, the double show days when you are already fighting a fever, the constant judgement and public nature of your dream, and that only mentions a few. The point is not to be negative or to try and convince myself that I’ve made the correct decision, but to be honest and fair both to my old pursuit, and to my present decision to have a more ‘ordinary’ life.
Perhaps one thing hit me the hardest yesterday as I ran and reflected on my past couple of years: if I hadn’t chosen to step away for awhile, I would be a different person than I am now. My choices, my pursuits, my goals, have changed, and that in turn, has changed me. Then I realized that if I wish away my current life for an imaginary substitute, I am really saying that I would prefer to be someone else, rather than who I am right here. Right now. The trouble with that thinking? It’s an abyss. And endless blackhold of ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’, which can lead you nowhere, FAST.
Do I question my decision to step away from my career? Yes. Almost every day. I miss getting to belt out a musical theatre show stopper, while raising my hands high above my head; I even miss the big musical PUNCH emphasizing the end of a number (a cadence 🙂 ), imploring the audience to respond; I miss having a vision of a number or scene, and seeing it come alive in front of me. But if I was THERE right now, instead of HERE, I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t get to sit here and write, listening to my kids watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 in the background; I wouldn’t be hearing my husband’s heavy sighs as he works on something for Sunday morning.
It might not be the ‘perfect’ life, with all of my original dreams and aspirations fulfilled, but in a way, I now have a NEW dream, which may be less glamorous, but DOES have it’s payoffs! I just got a huge hug, a zillion kisses and a dreamy eyed “I love you, Mom” from my (newly six year old) baby girl. How’s that for a showstopper?!
Becoming Ordinary: Year 1 Day 93