Somewhere between four and eight minutes. That's all you get. Somewhere between four and eight minutes to forget yourself, to live in the moment, to breathe, to just be. I lived within those four to eight minutes for a lot of my life. Those four to eight minutes may have even saved my life.
Someone asked me once what exactly it was that I loved about performing, and to this day I remember exactly what I said.
"I love performing because for those few minutes I'm on the field or on the floor of the gym, I can be someone other than myself. I can be anyone I want to be."
Of course, the person who asked me this didn't understand at all what I meant, but anyone who's ever gotten up and performed something and dedicated most of their life to being on a stage knows exactly what I'm talking about. When I was performing, whether it was for color guard in the marching band or dance, I was telling a story, or painting a picture. Without saying anything at all, I could show someone exactly what I was thinking or feeling, and I loved that. I lived for that.
This concept of being able to tell a story and be someone other than myself for four to eight minutes once a week saved me. Through grueling practices and rehearsals and all of the tears and dramatics that came with them, the one thing that kept me above water was that four to eight minute performance where I could let go of all of my emotion from the week and forget about it, because all that mattered was the story I was telling right then. There were many points in my performance career that I just wanted to give it all up and quit, because the tears and dramatics just weren't worth the trouble or my time, but every time I came close to actually following through, I couldn't do it. Performance was worth my time, and I was willing to put my grievances aside for four to eight minutes of being someone else. The look on the little kid's face after the show, the applause after a solo, the energy you can feel of the crowd responding to you...that was worth my time. It didn't matter that I was coming home every night and crying about how poorly people were treating me because I needed those minutes. I could put it aside for what I loved.
I haven't been on a stage or a field in over a year now, and I would be lying if I said I didn't miss it. I have dreams still of having those four to eight minutes. In the end, after I put away my dance shoes, I look back and smile about that time of my life. I will always be grateful to my many performance personalities for keeping my head above water.