A thank you note to my high school theatre director

Thanks To You, My High School Theatre Director

This was a hard one to write. We're not as close as we once were, but that doesn't change the fact that you're the reason I picked the career that I did.

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I was one of those kids who originally joined theatre to be with my friends. There was a mix up with my freshman year schedule and I ended up in the beginner's theatre class rather than the production class that all of my friends were in, and I instantly went to the counselor to get it fixed.

Little did I know, my life was changed forever from that point on.

I acted in two shows that year, and I knew that this was something I wanted to do for the rest of high school. Sophomore year came around, and I didn't get the audition results I had hoped for. Not sure if I wanted to continue with theatre after not being cast, I reluctantly agreed to serve as the stage manager for one act instead.

Learning all of these new things was a rough process, especially when I, a sophomore, was chosen to be stage manager over the senior who had done it for years before me.

That's when you came in.

I was a junior with a goal to convince the new director that I belonged on stage instead of on the crew, and I knew this was my opportunity. You had plans to put on a musical, something we had never done before, something that was going to be a new beginning for all of us.

I somehow landed a decent role, one that I thought was the first stop in my journey to becoming the new star actress of the department, and I was ready for it. Auditions for One Act Play rolled around, but even through all of the individual rehearsing, I was once again disappointed in the decisions that were made.

I ended up on crew, once again selected to be the stage manager, as you were a new director and I was familiar with how our school's systems worked.

Musical auditions for the next year's production came around and this was my last chance to become a new person.

I'll cut the suspense and give you the short story - I was the stage manager for that production as well, but at this point, I finally felt like this is what I was meant to do. I wasn't sure why it took me so long to realize it, but I figured out that this made me happy.

The spring semester and One Act Play rolled around, and I didn't even want to audition for the cast. Instead, I knew that I was my best self on the crew, and that's what I wanted to do.

Thanks to you, my high school theatre director, I know what I love doing. I finally found what made me happy and I love it so much that I decided to make it my career. I was your right-hand man for two years, and I'll never forget the feeling of succeeding as a family. You truly made me a new person—one that I thought I'd never be, but I'm still so glad I was able to find my true passion.

Thank you for all that you did for me.

Thank you for allowing me to play a huge part in producing two brand new plays written by you, and for trusting me enough to carry out the responsibility of a leadership role. Most of all, thank you for making the best decisions, way before I even knew that these choices were the best options for me.

I'll never be able to express how thankful I am for you.

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To The Girl Who Wears My Jersey

Now that you wear my jersey, here's what I'd like to tell you.
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To the girl who wears my jersey,

As an athlete, a jersey and number is more than just something you wear during a game. It means something more to an athlete.

One of the saddest parts of an athlete's career is when they have to give that jersey up for someone else to wear when they move on in life. After sitting in a box for a couple months after graduation, another athlete comes along and takes the jersey as their own. So, here's some things I would like to say to the girl that is wearing my jersey.

I hope you are working hard at the game. I hope that you are putting in extra hours when practice is over, and going 110% doing whatever you are doing. Enjoy the time you have now because soon it will be gone. It goes by in the blink of an eye and before you know it you will leaving your jersey behind just like I did, so cherish every moment. When I wore that jersey, I thought that the games and practices would never end until it got close to the end.

That jersey you're wearing has been through everything. It's gone through winning streaks, heartbreaking losses, comebacks, and blowouts. It's full of memories that I made with my teammates for years. There were the long bus rides or the pre-game traditions. There were the times we went out to eat and I got food on it, and times where it held my tears after a tough loss. That jersey you have has literally been with me through blood, sweat, and tears. It's seen all of the hard work I have put in on the field or court. I met so many different and amazing people in that jersey. I've played for coaches that have showed me perspectives of the game that I never saw before. I traveled to small towns, big cities, beaches, and other places I never thought I would see. It's an exciting time when you have that jersey on. You will meet new people, learn new things, and travel to places you never thought you would go before.

The jersey you are wearing means something to me, because I picked it for a reason and wore it for so many years. I picked the number on the jersey because it has a story, like every athlete's number does. The story can be as simple as it was picked for me and grew on me, or it could be your role model wore that number, so you chose it too. Another story could be that a family member wore it so you carried on the tradition. Whatever the story was, it's your turn to add your story to the jersey.

Be legendary. The truth is sometimes when someone thinks about that jersey you're wearing they'll think of the people that wore it before you. They think of the way the ones before you played, but that's all going to change. You are going to be added to the legacy and tradition. It's time for you to make your own legacy and name for yourself. It's about making people think that whoever wears the number next will be as great as the one before. Play to the best of your ability and work hard every day to be better than the next girl. Play with heart, be humble, and don't disrespect the tradition, team, or organization you are a part of.

Finally, play for someone other than yourself. Play for the name on the front of your jersey more than the one on the back. Play for everyone who got you to the point you are at now. Play for the ones who don't have the opportunity to play the game you love. Play for the little girl who watches you. Play for all the ones who wore the jersey before you.

Above all else, be your own player, create a name for yourself, and be humble.


Cover Image Credit: Caroline Showalter

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To The Overwhelmed, Undecided High School Senior, It's Going To Be OK

Even if it feels like nothing will work out, it will somehow.

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Let me preface this with a bit of my background to show why this is an important topic for me.

In April of my senior year, I had about five colleges to choose from. I also had a full scholarship from the Navy to do ROTC at the University of Washington. In the first week of April, I was offered an official visit to Brown University to tour the campus and meet students, which I did at the end of April. It felt like I had a plethora of options available, and I was trying to choose while also preparing for AP tests, finals, graduation, and working a job.

By May 1, I was suddenly medically disqualified by the Navy (therefore losing the scholarship), the offer acceptance window at nearly every other school closed, and I ended up accepting an offer at the University of Alabama, nearly 2,000 miles from home. For those few days at the beginning of May, I had never felt so lost and confused. I felt like I probably had a concrete plan at the University of Washington, and had even committed there, but that fell away in a blink of an eye.

I felt overwhelmed, unsure, and undecided.

As this year's seniors are wrapping up their final year of high school, preparing to commit to a college or go into the workforce, I'm sure many are feeling the same way. You're only 18, yet you're being asked to make a 4 (or more) year commitment that will likely dictate how much of your life unfolds. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and perfectionism, this reality weighed down on me like an anvil. In all honesty, though, I see exactly why everything happened the way it did.

After a year of being so far away from home, I've learned a tremendous amount about myself, others, and what it's like to live in a completely different part of the country. I've learned lessons in patience, self-care, independence, and other attributes that I may not have learned if I had been closer to home. So, to high school seniors that may be feeling the same way:

It will be OK.

Yes, offers aren't final, life happens, and you very well may end up somewhere you never thought you would. Or, you may end up exactly where you dreamed. Either way, you will be given tremendous opportunities to grow as a person, find what you're passionate about, and hopefully, make some close friends along the way. As a Christian, I believe that God can use you literally anywhere, and I see how he has used me and taught me lessons at the University of Alabama.

So, cherish this last month of high school. Enjoy time with your friends, finish up necessary schoolwork, and have a blast at prom. Worrying about your future won't help it or change it. All you can do is your best, and if you do that, you surely will end up exactly where you need to be.

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