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.