Twenty-something in New York

Tales from a small-town gal living
in Brooklyn and studying at
The Actors Studio Drama School.

River Stories

Last week in my voice class, we worked on an exercise called River Stories. We were asked to find ourselves standing on the bank of a river—a river that contained every event in our lives from birth to the present moment. And we examined specific life events—stepping stones—plunging into moments that for whatever reason came to the forefront of our subconscious. For maybe one of the first times ever, I began to see my life as a linear chain of events leading up to this very moment. My stepping stones became dominoes and I could see how one event was linked to another. Cause and effect, over and over. And it ultimately brought me some peace. Every moment of my life so far—good or bad—has led to who I am and what I’m doing today. And I traveled through the river of my life unashamed (for once) of the events, decisions, and relationships that make up who I am. And I even shared some of those things with my classmates. What surprised me most about sharing was that there was no judgment attached—I felt no embarrassment or regret, I simply shared some parts of my life as if to say “Well, that happened. So, yeah.” No analysis. Just glimpses of who I am. And I in turn got to see glimpses of other people’s lives. And the whole thing was just kind of beautiful and messy and simultaneously tragic and joyful. So it goes.

I think it’s really exciting to be standing on the proverbial stepping stone that is this MFA program, and not know where I’m jumping to next. What stone will I land on? Right now, I just see a raging river before me with endless possibilities. And it’s okay to not really know what’s next. Right now I’m just trying to focus on my work and on the little things that bring me happiness on a daily basis. Things like having couches in my living room to sit on, a guitar to learn how to play, enough money to buy groceries, musicals to see (and sing while I do the dishes), a roommate to watch Tom Cruise movies with, and a cat to run around my apartment like a furry possessed spirit. I’m just going to stick to my stone right now, and enjoy everything there is to enjoy about this part of my life. Too often I widen my scope to the big picture and work myself into a frenzy because my big picture doesn’t look like everybody else’s. I’m turning 25 in a month and I keep telling myself that I haven’t accomplished enough because I’m not accomplishing the same things other people my age are accomplishing. But then I step back and remember that everyone has a different river, with different stepping stones, and different horizons.

I think what I find drastically different about this year is my willingness to really commit. I try to find ways every single day in class to push myself further and work even harder. I don’t want to be the silent observer anymore. I don’t want to be the person who has a million questions and never asks them. Keeping with this quasi-cheesy stepping stone metaphor, it’s really almost shocking to jump back one stone to last year. Thinking back to those first few weeks, I remember being constantly terrified. I remember tugging uncomfortably at my clothes because I didn’t like my body. I remember standing up in front of my voice class to share a poem and dissolving into a puddle of tears because the thought of sharing any part of myself was literally unbearable. I used to walk around the halls constantly berating myself because I “couldn’t do anything.” And I look back at that stepping stone with a lot of tenderness and understanding. Because I had the bravery and the pluck to stick with it. And now, I feel this tremendous sense of growth and accomplishment. Now, I’m not afraid to go first. I’m not afraid to make a mess, and I’m not afraid to play. Sure, I get monumentally frustrated and upset from time to time, but I just keep showing up and giving 100% (sometimes 95%, depending on my coffee intake).

Yesterday in my movement class, my professor said time and time again that in order to survive, we must move forward. We can’t go back—we can only press on. We must find the horizon and move toward it. The stepping stones of my life will always be there. The things that have shaped who I am will never cease to exist. They’re a part of me, and from time to time, I can revisit these stones and remember what it was like to live through them. But I’m going to keep looking ahead. And when it’s time to jump, I’ll jump. And I’ll land on a new stone, and I’ll never forget what came before. I may falter, I may fail, I may lose my balance, but that’s okay. I’m going to keep moving forward.

I’m Ready.

Do you ever just feel like something is supposed to be yours? I bought a guitar the other day. And every time I pick it up it feels like I’m holding the most beautiful thing in the world. I’ve been saying that I want to learn how to play the guitar for months—and then I just decided, while at lunch with a friend, that I was going to go buy one and actually start learning. He went to the store with me and helped me pick it out—this gorgeous red acoustic Fender. And this whole weekend I’ve just been teaching myself chords figuring it out. There’s just something about having your own instrument—this guitar is mine and it’s special and I’m going to play and play until I’m good at it. 

I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’m done saying “Someday.” What’s wrong with now? I never want to be the type of person that says “someday, someday, someday,” then never actually does anything. I took the first step last year when I started graduate school. Now it’s time to stop putting everything else off. I’m going to learn how to play the guitar, I’m going to learn how to tap dance, I’m going to explore all of the things I’m passionate about. 

Last week I was at a little Welcome Back get-together for school when a friend said to me, “It’s amazing. You’ve just come back this year with a brand new sense of confidence.” And I realized that I actually did. It took me a really long time to find it. But it feels nice to have it. Right now, I feel like anything is possible—I’m ready to tackle all the challenges this year has in store for me. Already, I’ve caught myself falling into old traps of self-deprecation and self-doubt—and I’ve let those feelings go. There’s no time for self-pity or negative feelings. I am so lucky to be where I am and I intend to take full advantage of these next two years and learn anything and everything I can. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about acting in general lately. I remember when I was a sophomore in college someone convinced me that the only reason I was a good actor was because I hated myself. And for whatever reason, that stuck with me. Acting became this excuse to hide from myself, and I strove to make every character I played as different from myself as I possibly could. I started to believe that people only liked me when I was on a stage, playing a character. And that ultimately led me to a deep dark terrible place. And what I’ve come to discover over the past year or so is this: acting doesn’t have to come from a place of hate. It can come from a place of love. Acting gives me an opportunity to share some of the best parts of myself with others. As my acting teacher has said multiple times already, the more of ourselves we put into a character, the more truthful we can be on a stage. And I’ve learned that you don’t have to be in a state of constant pain and sorrow to be an actor. If I need it, I know where to find it. But I can lead a happy life and love myself and still be a good actor. 

This year, I hope to push myself even further to leave my comfort zone—I want to explore different types of characters and really begin to understand exactly what type of artist I want to be. I’m entirely enthusiastic about the upcoming year, for a multitude of reasons. I’m ready to open myself to new experiences and really enjoy life. I feel like every day, I discover new things I’m passionate about. And it’s a great feeling. And I’m going to hold onto it for as long as possible. 

An Ohio Excursion

I just returned from a much needed two week excursion to my home state, Ohio. I never thought I’d be so delighted to be back, but after more than a year away, I was very happy to see the Midwest. I spent my mini-vacation with my wonderful family, caught up with some friends, and visited my college campus. I went for walks around the apartment complex I lived in while I was in high school. I saw night skies full of stars and enjoyed sleeping in air conditioning. My mom and I made jewelry and spent hours looking at old family photos. I hung out with my sister and her adorable new corgi puppy. My uncle took us out on his boat and I rode on a jet ski for the first time (and got a wicked sunburn). I visited so many of the places I used to go when I lived in Ohio, and it was really nice to relax and slow down after such a busy summer. 

Going home made me realize how much I’ve changed in the past year. I went home with a sense of pride and accomplishment, with a new-found sense of confidence that I didn’t have when I left. Visiting Ohio also reminded me how fortunate I am to have people in my life who are rooting for me no matter what. I know that I’ll always have the love and support of my family, but it was also really wonderful to catch up with professors from Wittenberg who were instrumental in my journey to NYC. Hearing those amazing people express their excitement, pride, and encouragement was something that I really needed. I needed to be reminded that there are so many incredible, influential people in my life who want me to succeed. I had coffee with one of my history professors, and she hugged me and said, “It takes a lot of courage to do what you did. Not many people can do what you’ve done.” And I appreciated those words so much. And I had lunch with my friend, mentor and theatre professor, who looked at me with teary eyes and said “I’m proud of you.” And i could just feel in my gut that everything I’m doing right now is the right thing. And I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all those wonderful people who told me I was capable of anything. 

It was great to get away from the city for a little while and spend time with people that I love and care about immensely. School starts in less than a week and I’m more than ready to tackle another year at the Actors Studio. I’m motivated, I’m excited, and I’m confident. I’m rested and rejuvenated. More importantly, I’ve been reminded of how lucky I am to be pursuing my dreams.  This year, I’m going to work harder than ever. I’m ready. 

One Year

It amazes me how quickly time passes. 

On July 14, 2013, I woke up in my empty apartment in Springfield, OH at the literal crack of dawn. I got a phone call from my best friend Hannah, who hadn’t gone to bed yet. We talked as I packed up the last of my belongings and said goodbye to my air conditioned apartment with a dishwasher. I put my cat in her carrier, climbed into a Budget rental truck with all my belongings crammed inside, and drove the seven hours or so to Fairfax Station, VA to pick up Hannah. 

On July 15, 2013, Hannah and I got up early, said goodbye to her parents, and drove to New York City. And I will never, ever forget the way I felt. I felt a mixture of unbridled excitement and debilitating fear—a sweet combination of “I’m finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do” and “Holy shit, what did I do?!” I have many fond memories of getting settled into our new apartment during the worst heatwave ever, eating takeout on the floor of my bedroom, seeing Cinderella and Broadway and crying just a little bit. I worked as temporary file clerk for a law firm on Madison Ave. It was an exciting, terrifying time. 

Now, a year later, I can look back on that experience with a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was, in many ways, the turning point of my young adult life. It was the moment all those “whens” became “nows.” This has been a really important year for me. I’ve faced some difficult times—emotionally, physically, mentally—and I survived. I ran out of money more times than I’d like to admit, I cried on the subway a shameful amount of times, I got my heart broken a few times, I battled self-doubt and self-hatred and I’m a better person because of it. I’ve learned that there’s a huge difference between living on your own in a city like Springfield and living on your own in NYC. I’ve learned that being proactive is more satisfying than waiting around for things to happen. 

I’ve been trying lately to re-discover those feelings of opportunity, excitement, and wonder I felt when I first moved to NYC. This summer has been less than ideal—working 60 hours a week has left me feeling exhausted and frazzled. I don’t mind working hard, but I just feel this sense of panic clawing at me because I’ve spent my summer working at a chicken restaurant instead of focusing on my acting career. At this point, survival is more important—I have to pay my rent and bills and eat—but I feel like I’m just losing time. I was in such a good place at the end of the school year, and then everything just came to a screeching halt. And it’s something that bothers me every single day. I can deal with most things—but this has been really hard to deal with. I wanted this summer to be so much different than it’s turned out to be. And life just works out that way sometimes, and I have to keep reminding myself that everything will be okay. 

I had a really rough day at work yesterday where I was scrambling around trying to make a metric ton of guacamole from scratch, peel 3 dozen eggs, make pico de gallo, get the restaurant ready for service—and I just had to stop for a minute and go stand in the bathroom and ask myself “Why am I even doing this?!” And the answer was of course, “So you can live in New York and eat and have an apartment and go to grad school.” But there was a tiny part of me that just kept saying “Walk out of here.” Of course I didn’t, but I wanted to. I wanted to literally throw avocados at everyone and walk out in a blaze of glory never to return. But instead I put on my best fake smile and did my job, telling myself over and over again that I need the money and I have to just suck it up. And I got through my shift and changed my clothes and went to my other job at Signature. And I actually really love this job. I look forward to going to work there. But last night, I just sat inside the theatre, watching yet another intolerably bad NYMF musical (this one about Marie Antoinette and Sally Hemmings, featuring Thomas Jefferson in black skinny jeans), and cried quietly. And I’m laughing a little bit as I write this because that’s just so pathetic. But I’m just so tired and disappointed that I didn’t plan ahead enough, or find a better paying survival job, or whatever. Ultimately, I’m doing what I have to do right now. 

I did make a promise to myself, though. I promised myself that next summer, I’m focusing 100% of my time and attention on my career. I’m going to plan ahead and take the necessary steps to ensure that I have the time, energy, and resources to actually do what I came here to do. No more wasting time. 

And there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel for me: on August 15, after being away from my family for over a year, I will be flying to Ohio for two whole weeks to spend time with them. And I wouldn’t be able to see them if it wasn’t for this crappy chicken job. So, there’s a silver lining. I will end my less-than-enjoyable summer with a much needed vacation with my family and some great friends back home—and I’ll come back to NYC refreshed, happy, and ready to tackle another great year at the Actors Studio. It’s so close. So, so, so close. 

"Keep on the Sunny Side of Life"

I realized today that I don’t laugh as much as I should. So, I made an effort to laugh today (and provide photo documentation of said laughter, naturally). I’ve been so caught up in how much I don’t like working long hours all day every day, that I haven’t taken the time to enjoy the little things. Like tonight, I stood on the roof of my apartment building in Brooklyn, and watched fireworks. I was alone, and everything was quiet, and I just stood there and watched the sky light up in the distance. And I remembered how much I love this city, and how happy I am to be here. 

This week, I was in charge of a little “drama camp” with three adorable six-year-old girls. Together, we wrote a play called “The Queen, the Unicorn and the Fairy Princess,” and performed it for their moms on Wednesday. There’s something so wonderfully special about a child’s imagination. The three of them came up with a story about a fairy that could change the weather, puppies that could plant flowers, unicorns that could fly, and friendship triumphing over evil. And it was such a nice change of pace to do something that left me feeling like I actually accomplished something. I felt a little surge of pride when the girls took their bows after their performance. And to see their moms light up with pride made me feel like I had actually done something that mattered. It reminded me of the days when my sister and I and our friends would perform shows in our basement for our parents. And I felt like I could finally reconnect with that kid that’s still inside of me—that little kid who used to sing and dance and make up skits. And I realized in an instant how far I’ve come and how much closer I get to achieving those childhood dreams every day. 

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, mainly because working in the food industry is enough to crush anyone’s spirit just a little. And sometimes I just feel like I’m drowning in a bunch of needless stress. Today, I took some time to just do some little things that made me happy: I decorated my room (I recently moved into a new apartment and my room has been a trashy mess until today), I dyed my hair just for fun, I treated myself to some ice cream, and watched the fireworks. None of those things seem like much, but I truly feel happy and rejuvenated. It’s really, really important to stop and enjoy the little things.  

Sometimes, I get frustrated because things aren’t perfect. Well, a perfect life would be pretty boring. At the end of the day, the only person’s life I want is mine. Because I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve got, and I’m proud of that fact. I may be tired and a little frustrated at times, but everything—and I mean everything—I’m doing is getting me one step closer to where I want to be. And things will fall into place when the time is right. I have to keep reminding myself that even the worst situations have a silver lining. I just have to keep pushing forward. 

Just a Fleeting Thought

Sometimes, it’s just so comforting to know that there’s another human being in the universe who’s feeling the same things I’m feeling. It makes me feel like less of a misfit disaster person. And it doesn’t make things any less confusing, or scary, or frustrating, or whatever—but it’s just nice to know that I’m not alone. 

Chicken Wisdom

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working at a new fast-casual restaurant in the Financial District. Yesterday was the grand opening, so the management asked some staff to stay late the night before and help them get everything ready for the big day. They of course compensated us with overtime pay, pizza, cake, and heartfelt gratitude—but I’d like to think that maybe I would’ve stayed to help regardless. Because I’ve watched this restaurant owner—who is literally the nicest guy I’ve ever met—work hard every single day to make his dream become a reality. This isn’t just some shitty fast food place, this is the product of this guy’s dedication and hard work. This restaurant opening marked the end of over two years of preparation on his part. And he’s been there every night for the past two weeks marinating chicken at two in the morning. Last night, one of the last things we did was take the paper off the windows—and I watched this guy stand outside as we peeled it off, taking a video on his phone, with his eyes welling up with tears. I’m glad I got to see that. 

Seeing someone else’s dream become a really inspired me. I’m witnessing first hand exactly how much hard work, determination, and flexibility it takes. I also learned something really, really important today: everybody fails. Because today was an absolute disaster at the restaurant. At one point, we had a line out the door and we ran out of chicken. We ran out of pretty much everything. Some of the kitchen equipment started to fail. And the management team tackled things head-on, dealing with problems as best as they could. And it was a shitty day. And customers were pissed off. And after everything, the owner simply said, “Well, we’re just gonna do better tomorrow. And even better the next day.” 

I think it’s funny when people tell me, “Shouldn’t you get a real job instead of acting?” Well, people fail at “real” jobs too. Things aren’t easy. Doing what you love isn’t easy. And though I don’t plan on spending the rest of my life working at this chicken restaurant, it is nice to be working for someone who had a vision and is seeing it through. I know opening a fast-casual restaurant is entirely different from acting, but the amount of work and dedication is the same.

Working here makes me miss school. I’m feeling a little unfulfilled these days. I’ve been feeling really isolated lately—probably because all I do is work and sleep. I need to be more adamant about making time for myself. I need to make time to work on my goals and my career. I need to make time to relax and see friends and enjoy things. I hope things settle down soon so I can focus on life outside of work. But I’m happy (and lucky) to be gainfully employed, and I’m glad to be constantly reminded that sometimes, you fall flat on your face. You just have to pick yourself up and do better tomorrow. 

Ready for Summer in the City

Summer has gotten off to a somewhat rocky start. Summer job hunting is always far from enjoyable (especially when you look for over a month, hear nothing, then subsequently run out of money and resort to mooching off your friends/roommates for food). But—now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I’m officially gainfully employed for the summer, which is a relief. It’s sort of funny how the universe works sometimes: you worry yourself half-to-death, then at the last possible second things work out. In the past two days I’ve been hired for two different jobs (one as a Street Teamer, which sounds fun, and the other as a Counter Server in a chicken restaurant, which sounds less fun), I picked up some shifts at Signature, started doing some freelance copy-writing, and picked up a babysitting job. I think I’ve about covered every possible twenty-something-living-in-NYC job there is, and I’ll be doing all of them this summer! Well, money is money, and as long as I can pay my bills, I’ll be happy. 

Despite all the anxiety surrounding the job, it’s been nice to take a break from school and just relax for a little bit. I’ve quickly discovered, though, that I don’t like being sedentary. After a week of lying in bed watching Netflix, I started to just feel pretty depressed and useless. I’ve gotten so used to being busy all the time, that I’m not quite sure what to do with myself when I have nothing to do. But, that problem’s been solved: no more lazy days…time to get to work! 

Speaking of, a friend and I got together at the beginning of summer break and set some summer goals. We both decided to help and support each other so we can really work toward things we want to achieve. The last thing I want is for this summer to go to waste. I just learned so many valuable things at school, and I don’t want to ignore all of it over the next several months. So, here are some of goals, mostly pertaining to my acting career/education: 

1. Read 1-2 plays per week, and keep track of scenes, monologues, and possible thesis ideas
2. Learn new monologues (find 10, learn/record 5)
3. Audition twice per month 
4. Learn more about film acting
5. Sensory work/journal once a week
6. Work on building my website
7. Investigate voice/dance lessons 
8. Read “An Actor Prepares,” “On Method Acting,” and “Respect for Acting”
9. Do voice warm-up twice a week (start developing different warm-ups for different situations)

Of course, we made sure to make goals pertaining to our health and life outside of acting, but I thought it would be more pertinent to share the career goals. The more I experience live theatre, the more I talk about it with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, the more I realize how essential it is that I use this summer to really get ahead of the curve. I need to be as proactive as possible. 

I’m enthusiastic about the summer and its prospects. Between working and achieving my goals, I want to take some time to just enjoy the city with my friends, relax, explore, try new things, discover new places—I’ve lived in this city for almost a year now, and I can’t wait to have a New York summer. 

The First Year

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this year has changed my life.  It’s hard to even process all of the things I’ve learned this school year—I’ve grown artistically, professionally, and personally. I’ve found a home at ASDS that I never expected to find. It makes me cry to even think about all of the fascinating, brave, compassionate people I’ve come to know since August. People who have supported me, loved me, picked me up, kept me grounded, challenged me, laughed with me, cried with me. It’s comforting to have an unspoken understanding with a community of artists—a deep human connection that is always there underneath everything. And I can think back to so many tiny moments of intense connection—discovered in handshakes and hugs and games and conversations. And I know definitively that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, with the people I’m supposed to be with, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

It’s really difficult to put into words what this year has been like. It feels like someone ripped open my ribcage and finally exposed my heart to the world. I’ve discovered so much about myself—and I’ve learned how to love every part of me: all my pain, my insecurities, my idiosyncrasies, my body, my mind, my soul. And I’ve started to learn how to take all of those parts of me and share them on a stage through a character. And it feels incredible to be able to play a character without having it all be intellectual. It’s so much more satisfying and interesting to be in the moment, to listen, and to feel things organically. And I’ve finally stopped telling myself that I can’t do things. Because that doesn’t do me any good. I had a conversation with my acting teacher the other day and I told her that a year ago, I didn’t think I could do dramatic scenes or cry onstage or handle difficult material. And she just smiled and said, “You can do anything.” And I’m going to allow her advice to propel me through the rest of my time at the Actors Studio. I can do anything.

This past week, I acted in front of an audience for the first time in almost two years. This festival week has been the highlight of the year for me. Not only did I get to perform and share with an audience, I got to watch all of my incredibly talented classmates perform. For this first time, I truly felt as though I really shared something with the audience. I went out on stage and for ten minutes I gave them a huge piece of myself. And more importantly, I wasn’t focused on the results. I wasn’t hung up on who was going to like it or what people were going to think of me. I was proud of my work and I was excited to share it, and that was really mattered to me. I’m still learning, I’m still experimenting, I’m still growing. But this week truly inspired me. I took a risk with “Hello from Bertha” and I was proud of the final result. And I was so happy to work on “Relationtrip” because I essentially got to play a version of myself. I got to be honest and real, and it was a true gift. But now, more than ever, I’m excited to push myself even harder and try new things and play all types of characters.

My time here is sacred. It really is. It’s so important to me. This is my time to really grow and learn as much as I can. I’m here for myself and for no one else. And I think that has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned this year. I was not put on this earth to run around trying to make everyone else happy. It’s not my job to placate everyone at my own expense. I will always love the people in my life and will always have a sort of naïve faith in people, but I have to be self-reliant. I’ve taught myself how to be resilient this year. I’ve learned how to support and encourage myself. I’ve learned how to take care of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. And that’s so essential. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m glad I did it.

Everything is different now. I’m different. And I feel like it’s going to take a significant amount of time to really process and understand this year. Because so much has happened (good and bad). I’m looking forward to the summer so I can sort everything out. All I know is that I’m so immeasurably happy to be where I am right now. And I’m so grateful to my classmates, my friends (near and far), my family, and my teachers for being with me on this journey. I’m so excited to see what’s in store next year. At our orientation, James Lipton said to us, “Students of the Actors Studio Drama School…come to the edge, and fly.” And for a long time, I stood at the edge. And this semester, I’ve let myself fly. And I’m not going to let my feet touch the ground—not yet. 


Wednesday in one of my classes we did an exercise where we worked with secrets. Not our personal secrets, but our characters’ secrets. Right now I’m working on Tennessee Williams’ Hello from Bertha, a scene about a dying prostitute. So I reached inside of myself and found Bertha’s secret. Then, we wrote our secrets out on the floor. Then we ate them. Then we felt the secret sit inside of our belly. Then we puked it back out and painted with whatever colors came out of us. We painted our secrets on giant imaginary canvases. And as I stood there, staring at the words painted with pieces of me—my insides, my blood—I felt this strange liberation. It wasn’t inside of me. And it was Bertha’s secret—something she pushed down deep inside of her and hid from the world because she had no other choice. But it was also my secret. And it was no longer inside of me, eating away at my insides. It was spread out on a canvas in front of me—bloody, grotesque. And I remembered how it felt when it was in my belly, and how much better it felt to have it gone. 

And then I destroyed my imaginary canvas. I ripped it to shreds until it was nothing but a pile of rags in front of me. And I pushed the pile out of my sight until it disappeared. And we all filled that empty space in our bellies with white, healing light. And I felt so much relief and acceptance. I learned so much about my character—her pain, her internal suffering. But I also learned so much about myself. About the things I’ve been suppressing and carrying around inside of me because I thought I had to. But I purged myself and I feel so much lighter now that I’m not dragging that stupid secret around with me. 

I’ve really come to understand and realize that these three years at the Actors Studio are sacred. In just one year I’ve learned so much and opened myself up to a world that I’ve shut out for so long. And I’ve felt intense pain and heartbreak and immeasurable sadness. But I’ve also felt moments of euphoria and pride and joy. And I understand now more than ever that these years are for me. I don’t mean to sound selfish. But it’s true. It’s not about pleasing other people, or impressing anyone, or changing myself because people say I should. I’m here to become the best possible version of myself. I bought this time, and nothing is more important than doing the work and being as honest as I can. 

I know sometimes people don’t understand. And that’s okay. Not everyone has to. If I’ve learned anything this year it’s that I need to be self-reliant. People come and go. Things end. Things change abruptly and things disappear. Nothing ever stays the same. And through it all, I will always have myself. I will always have my belief in myself and my determination. When I crawl into bed at night, exhausted, I know that I’m working hard and doing my best. And that is enough for me. Right now, I don’t need anything else.