A year ago, I was excited to begin my 20s.
I was finally leaving behind my teenage years. In a way, it felt like everyone was beginning a new stage of their lives: the new decade was beginning, it was an election year, and the world felt like a place of opportunity.
I worked on a production of "Angels in America", which was something truly wonderful. I went away to my first conference and ended up winning an award for my work on "A Little Night Music", validating to me that dramaturgy is what I want to do with my life. And I was given the opportunity to perform in New York City through the New York premiere of the #HereToo Project. When "Angels" wrapped up in early March, I was looking forward to slowing down and just enjoying the rest of my semester.
You know how that story ends. March 2020. My New York trip was cancelled; the premiere of #HereToo and the developmental reading for a musical I was working on were both "postponed". I never went back to Penn State. No live theatre, even if I wanted to. I stayed home and worked at the grocery store I've worked at since high school. I moved back into my childhood bedroom and tried to focus on Zoom. The summer came and I was still here. The artistic director internship I was offered at a regional summer stock fell through.
Rather than waiting for opportunity to come knocking, I hunted it down. I worked with friends to create online opportunities for kids in our hometown. The result was 10 weeks of free, educational theatre content. I did a virtual internship with the #HereToo Project that produced a podcast (now streaming on Spotify). I became more open with family. My relationships with my parents healed. I fell in love with someone.
I went back to Penn State this fall and spiraled. I lived alone for three months, worked a job that I absolutely loved and also a job that I absolutely hated. The only communication that I had with people was through computer and phone screens. I found an amazing friend in someone who lived down the hall and we still talk often. I got my heart broken and subsequently fell into a depression that I could not find a way out of until I found the strength to just leave.
I packed up all of my things in my dorm and came home. You know the story. I've written about it.
I've been home for almost three months now. I'm gearing up for a new semester entirely online. Someone asked me the other day what projects I have coming up. And for the first time, I realized that I don't. And that's okay. I'm sure within a week of posting this, I'll find something to occupy my time with.
I want to thank all of you who have read what have felt like very open and personal diary entries this past fall. Writing these have been cathartic, yes, but they've also been a bit detrimental to my mental health as well. Reliving the trauma of this year over and over again has done nothing to help me heal and I am acknowledging that.
A phrase has been running through my mind the past week or so.
"How often do you get a chance to start over?"
That's what I have here. A chance to start over. Start fresh. This year, I'm going to be applying for graduate school, hopefully helping live theatre find its way back into our society, and moving into my first apartment. These are all things that I hope will help me to heal and become the person I want to be.
This will be my last post for Odyssey for a while.
In my 20th year, I have found beauty in the silence. I have found beauty in the stillness. And I have found beauty in me.
Tomorrow is my 21st birthday and with that, it seems like a good time to take some time away. May my (and your) 2021 be filled with even more self-discovery and self-love. See you real soon.