I Almost Gave Up Performing

I Almost Gave Up Performing

My eyes are open wide. By the way, I made it through the day.

I've been performing my entire life: acting in community plays since nine, performing shows in my living room, singing in church at age five even though the religious songs went over my head, and always dancing in my room and at school dances. Performing is what I'm good at it, it gives me life, a healthy high, my therapy. I can't imagine life without performing.

I almost gave it all up. It was April 2009, I was 15 years old, and going through some dark times: family issues, painful insecurity, anxiety, depression, loneliness. Performing and dreaming of performing was the only thing that could help me, help me feel anything, not be numb to the world. I was isolating myself from the world, feeling only safe in my house, with my music and writing.

It was spring break, and there was an advertisement on the radio. Downeast Idol, a local singing competition for teenagers for the town of Calais and St. Stephen, Canada was holding auditions. I knew I wanted to audition, I always dreamt of being a singer, and I had big dreams of being on American Idol. Due to my increasing anxiety and insecurity, I doubted my ability, my self-esteem was microscopic. My friends kept telling me to do it, and watching American Idol auditions the night before, I finally decided to do it. Something good had to come along, and maybe this was it.

I couldn't decide on what song to sing. Avril? Kelly Clarkson? So many to choose from. I practiced and prepared in the little time I had. Crossing the border, I shook the whole way. No going back now.

I arrived to the St. Stephen High School, then made my way to the auditorium where the audition was. There was an empty stage, tons of empty chairs, with a single chair and microphone under a spotlight. Talk about intimidation. I trembled uncontrollably, and sat on the stool, squinting under the bright light to see the two judges sitting across from me.

I sung "Sk8ter Boi", admittedly not the best song to sing, but it was a song I knew and worked with my vocal range. It was difficult to sing with my shaky, nervous voice, my nerves shimmering under the spotlight. But the judges seemed to believe in me, and kept asking me to sing different songs. With each new song request, I gradually became more comfortable and confident. The judges appeared to be impressed, as their tones were warm and improving. They told me they would call me at the end of the day with their decision.

Walking out of the auditorium, I felt confident for the first time in months. My mom, who was outside the room, looked at me in shock, "I didn't know you could sing like that." My mother, who is always been unapologetically honest, truly thought I was going to get to compete in the contest.

All day I was on edge; every time the phone rang, my heart would get heavy and pound like a kick drum. Yet I felt good about something for the first time in months, my spirit seemed to be lifting out of the darkness it was in.

But then came the devastating blow. The phone call finally came. I didn't make it. The world went around mute around me. I don't remember crying so hard in my life. I finally hit rock bottom. I was inconsolable, nobody could help me, nobody could save me. I didn't want to be saved, I wanted it all to end.

I locked myself in my room, sobbing my will to go on and little happiness I had left into my pillows. Singing, one of the few things I had as a coping mechanism, had failed me. I was so tired of being rejected, getting hurt, my self-esteem and spirit had been so critically beaten that I wanted to just give up. Give up on living, give up on trying, give up performing, give up my dreams. My dreams were stupid, they weren't going to happen. I was self-destroying myself, as the rest of the world seem to be doing to me, I was simply turning the pain inward.

I woke up the next day, heavy hearted, broken. My tv was left turned on to Vh1, music videos playing in the background. I wasn't paying attention to the pointless videos, they were just a painful reminder of what would never happen for me.

A familiar song got my attention. "Second Chance" by Shinedown came on. I had heard this song before, but never really paid attention to it, or the video, this was the first time I had seen the video in its entirety. The music video tells a story of a girl who dreams of becoming a dancer, but her family doesn't support her, and the girl eventually leaves her family to pursue her passion. I wanted to be the girl, run away from my problems and not come home until I finally reached my aspirations.

Suddenly I felt an urge to fight, an urge to keep going. I cried again, this time out of gratitude--somebody finally understood how I felt. The song came on the moment I needed it the most. Music kept me going, it was the one thing that made my life tolerable, a way for me to feel heard, feel understood.

Since that fateful day, my passion for performing has been alive and kicking. Performing in plays and skits, dance recitals, and even singing in public, performing has gotten me through some of my worst days. It makes me feel important, loved, special, powerful.

In April 2017, eight years after the fateful rejection, I performed a solo routine to Second Chance in my dance group's recital. The song means so much to me, and even in on my bad days, that song still serves as a comfort. I wish I could thank Brent Smith personally for writing and singing such a beautiful song. This is what music and performing is all about: inspiring others with our own emotions and experiences.

I still dream of being famous and inspiring others, and I honestly don't know where I would be now without that moment of blackness. Performing is part of who I am, what I'm good at. I can't live without it, it's the gifts I've been blessed with for whatever reason, and I can't take it for granted, or throw it away again.

Never give up. Never stop chasing your dreams.

My solo routine:

Cover Image Credit: Sylvia Brooks

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs. In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm..

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Poetry On Odyssey: Depression Isn't Taken Seriously Until You Commit Suicide

According to society, until you commit suicide, your feelings aren't valid.


"You're only seeking attention." Until you commit suicide.

"You just want everybody to feel sorry for you." Until you commit suicide.

"You're not actually stressed out." Until you commit suicide.

"You don't actually feel that way." Until you commit suicide.

"What do you even have in your life to be depressed about?" Until you commit suicide.

"You're just not trying hard enough to be happy." Until you commit suicide.

"You just like to complain about your problems." Until you commit suicide.

"Depression isn't real." Until you commit suicide.

"Your life can't be that hard." Until you commit suicide.

"You have too many good things in your life to feel that way." Until you commit suicide.

"You're just trying to be negative." Until you commit suicide.

"You're just psycho." Until you commit suicide.

"You don't know what struggling really feels like." Until you commit suicide.

"The world doesn't revolve around you." Until you commit suicide.

"It's not like it's the end of the world." Until you commit suicide.

"You're not actually sad." Until you commit suicide.

No one takes your depression seriously, until...you commit suicide.

If this article hits home, it's okay to speak up. Seek help if you need it, you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

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