I’ve chosen to pursue theatre professionally after college and it’s exhilarating.
It’s exhilarating to see how much I’ve grown into my own skin these past four years at and outside of BU. My freshman year I came in as an International Relations major, yet I knew I’d always be a theatre minor — I couldn’t give up my love for the dramatic arts. Theatre defined me for most of my life — it’s where I found my own community, where I expressed myself, where I could create, engage with big ideas and topics, and be inspired and challenged. How could I ever give this up?
I came into college knowing that I would pursue the arts eventually, I would study international politics and art because I’d marry the two in the future. I knew I wanted to be a political artist, and this is how I’d start. My parents thought I’d just study theatre on the side, but work in international politics once I graduated, and I worried about the possibility of that coming true. I worried A LOT. Would my not being a theatre arts major mean I’d lose my chance? Would I go down a path that felt contrived by my parents? Would I be denying myself a life that made more sense to ME? And what would be the point of that, anyway? I struggled with the decision for a long time. My mom, whom I consider one of my best friends, and I would fight endlessly over the phone about this — because, like any good parent, she wanted to make sure I’d be able to support myself and the people I love, and, to her, being a theatre artist wouldn’t ensure that. I’d share countless examples of artists who were doing just fine, trying to convince her that pursuing theatre wouldn’t mean being financially insecure, but maybe I was trying to convince myself too?
I spoke to many people about the choice, including the swami at Boston’s Ramakrishna Vedanta Society and a Filipina artist and shaman. I told the swami that I wished to pursue theatre arts, but an important person in my life was firmly against it and she wanted me to pursue politics. He told me that the political sphere needed creative people to make positive change, and that maybe there was some value in what my mom said. I bursted into tears, the swami went to the other room for tissue paper, and handed me a tissue. Obviously, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I think the tears came out of disbelief and frustration — I specifically remembered the swami saying in one of his speeches to the Society that his father was against his becoming a swami, but he did it anyway. And, plus, artists make positive change; I can have an equally powerful voice through a stage.
My encounter with the Filipina artist and shaman went differently. Before her performance she talked about her path to singing and performing as a form of shamanic healing so I approached her after the performance and asked her if she would be open to sharing a bit more on how she found her path because I felt like I was at a crossroads, with fear holding me back. I will never forget what she said to me: “I realized that it was MY life. No other person would live it — only me. Will your loved one be living your life, or will you?” She probably doesn’t remember the exchange at all, but she’s had a lasting impression on me. And I return to her words often.
These past four years I’ve continued pursuing theatre, through opportunities and training on campus, in the CFA, and in the professional theatre world. These experiences have confirmed for me that I want to be a theatre artist, and that I want to fully commit to being a theatre artist. Fear is not an option. It’s just a silly little thing that stands in the way. I need to be bigger than it, and walk right past it. I am interviewing for post-college assistant directing opportunities now and I am ecstatic to step into this new phase. Is this what outrunning fear feels like?