Ever since I was a kid all I ever dreamed of was moving to New York City and living my big dreams and performing on Broadway. I held so tightly to that dream of mine that I stopped myself from pursuing other things that I thought I would want to do with my life. I boxed myself into my Broadway dreams that I had tunnel vision for my life, and if things didn’t go exactly according to plan for those dreams I freaked out. I cried for hours when I didn’t get into my dream college because that was going to determine my dream. I got so angry with myself when I couldn’t do a triple pirouette because that’s what would help me get to my dreams. I held tightly to the body type and image that “Broadway Performers” had and caused so many eating issues and body dysmorphia in my later years. I was never happy because I hadn’t achieved my dream.
Then I decided that maybe I’d never make it. So I settled myself into a new box. A small, tiny, box, where I knew I would be ‘successful.’ I decided I wanted to be a teacher- because I was good with kids, and knew I could get a job post-grad. I enrolled in the teaching seminars, went to all the “teach for America” seminars, and signed up for all the email lists for grad schools in teaching. But when I started to get real about it, I dreaded my future. The excitement I felt for performing on Broadway wasn’t met with the excitement I felt for teaching. I felt super hopeless and had no idea what to do with my life. But, reality check, I was only 20. Who the heck knows what they’re going to do with their life at 20? Not most people. But for some reason, I felt so behind. I felt so lost. And I felt like everyone around me was so successful and driven. In retrospect, I felt like that, not because I talked to people about their lives, but because I followed all the “Instagram successful people.” You know, the business womxn with 200k followers because of their style and their inspirational quotes. The influencers in their fields who are only a few years older than me but so successful.
Amidst my chaotic crisis, I found myself in a few classes over the summer. One of them was Video Art. It was taught by a total hippie professor who just wanted you to create something cool and explore something different. And honestly, I was inspired. I figured out how much I actually loved editing videos. Even meaningless ones of my housemates cooking ramen or the view from my car on a long drive. Another class I unexpectedly loved was screenwriting. I always saw myself on the other side of the camera, so when I started writing for the screen I was so surprised at my aptitude for storytelling. And when I started combining those two passions, I started to realize that I was truly happy. I was no longer focused on my ‘success’ in a certain position or field. I never felt depressed by my inabilities or shortcomings, only inspired by where I could go and how I could grow.
That’s when it hit me. Only when I let go of my expectations for success did I start to find my passions. Maybe one day I’ll go back and decide that yes, I do want to perform on Broadway. Or I’ll enroll in a teaching credential program down the line. But until I allowed myself to let go of my expectation for my life, for my ‘success’ did I realize my objectivity to the term ‘success.’ Success in my mind is how happy I can be in a role. Success is how much I can work at something and realize that it doesn’t feel like work. Success is living a life I love, freed from my own expectations that get me down. And freeing myself from previous notions of it, was the first step I had for truly realizing my passions and my calling. Who knows if I’ll go into video editing. But allowing myself to make a change in my life and take a leap of faith makes all the difference in the grand scheme of things.