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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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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