I'm kind of a weirdo.
I sing in places other than just the shower, and if I don't know the lyrics, I often make them up or repeat the parts I know over and over until the person I am with gives me murder eyes.
I can recite Hamlet's soliloquy from Act III Scene I, and I know lines from Macbeth. I use both of these talents as ways to confuse people at bars that I do not wish to have further interaction with. No, seriously I do. And it works like a friggin' charm most of the time.
I do awful and unfair impressions of Forrest Gump, Janis from "Friends", Patrick Star, Jack Sparrow, Aaron Neville, Elvis Presley, Brittany Spears, Katherine Hepburn, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Christopher Walken and Russel Brand. No, I'm not joking. Well, when I pull them out they are intended to be humorous, but I am serious that I have them up my sleeve.
But you know what's cool about my version of weird? I know you're going to say nothing, and you're too funny.
But in all seriousness, I can use these things to annoy people or make them laugh (sometimes anyway). But the best thing of all is that there is an outlet for it. That outlet is theater.
That's right, there's a place for my weird to exist freely. I know, I know. When I discovered that, I was shocked too.
I mean, when I tell people I've done a lot of theater in my life, they all make the same head titled back "aha" expression - which I've personally never understood. Like, what are they saying? Not everyone has Hamlet's soliloquy still memorized from that Shakespeare class they took early on in college?
It's true though. Since I was in the womb, theater has been a haven for me. Not kidding, my mom was stage managing a play when I was just a growing fetus.
To name a few roles, I've been a wicked step-mother, a male sheriff, a saucy maid, a worn-out stage actress and a vampire vixen. It sounds super cliché, and to some, it might even be extra, but these are lives I was able to imagine myself in. And from each of them, I take a little lesson.
Beyond a haven, theater has also served as an educational tool for me. I have learned some seriously valuable skills, from comfortability with public speaking and posture to thinking on my feet and voice control.
It is because of the life skills theater has given me that I have gotten jobs and internships, that I have formed friendships and relationships. I use what I've learned in some way, every second of every day.
It sounds dramatic, but it's true.
And if you've read the news following some of the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you probably know that those leading the gun control movement in the United States right now are theater kids.
Mary Laura Philpott's puts it well in her Washington Post editorial: "Breathe, speak up, calm your nerves and stick to the words you mean to say. That's what you do onstage, and, if you're lucky, it's what you do when someone puts a microphone in front of your face".
Apparently, the drama teacher who taught these young adults and a fellow survivor of the shooting, Melody Herzfeld, a woman who hid 65 kids from the shooter, is to receive a theater education prize from the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University.
It's a big deal – as it should be. I owe a lot of who I am to theater.
One of my favorite teachers in elementary school would have us start and end the day with acting exercises. We imagined ourselves as melted ice cream cones, and we played that game where you and a partner mirror each other's movements. For a few minutes each day we creatively became something other than ourselves.
But hey, don't take my word for it.
Americans for the Arts says that the performing arts promote creativity, confidence, problem-solving, perseverance, focus, nonverbal communication, receiving constructive feedback, collaboration, dedication and accountability.
And laughter, lots of laughter. Which according to the Mayo Clinic, promotes a healthy immune system and relieves pain and stress.
And who dislikes the sound of a humanity with all those qualities? That's right, no one.
Perhaps not everyone enjoys getting up on stage, and that's totally okay. But I do believe that any kind of involvement in live and local theater even as a spectator can help change the world for the better.
So get out there and get your drama nerd on.