"Are you sure you want to stop? You're so close to getting better parts... You're so talented... Just try one more time"

My mother is my biggest fan and wanted to see me thrive on stage living up to my full potential. She introduced me to dance, music, and theatre- big parts of my life that shaped my interests in storytelling and self-expression. I loved theatre for what it is and will always support it, but will not be making any reappearances onstage again.

I love to sing and dance, and musical theater is basically a combination of the two. After 10 years of theater, the rehearsal process burned me out. Rehearsals aren't just constantly running scenes, songs, and dances, it involves interactions with the cast and directors and I always felt disconnected and distant.

I started formal training in ballet and tap when I was three and took independent voice lessons when I was eight, so I came into my first musical theatre intensive with an extensive background in techniques when I was ten. I love the costumes and make-up. The whole process of becoming a different person in a different time and place appealed to me. It was a more sophisticated and accepted version of playing pretend. I was in my own little world on stage, but it carried over in reality too.

Because of my training, I was put in higher age groups for shows. For reference, I was twelve dancing and performing with seniors in high school. It was a large age gap I wasn't mentally or emotionally prepared for. Most tweens would want to be associated with older kids, but being thrown in so early left me constantly intimidated by older members.

I was never bullied or left out on purpose. The older kids were always very kind to me and invited me to their cast parties, but the age gap was so big it was hard to really connect with them. It is amazing how much went on while I participated and how oblivious I was to their drama and personal lives. I eventually left this specific program in eighth grade and decided to take a break from theatre.

My high school really encourages students to be involved with extracurriculars, so I decided to audition for my drama club's fall showcase.

Again, I felt a strong disconnect from my cast. They were always kind to me, but they've been performing together since they were in middle school and already formed their strong friendships. The director at the time was very impressed with my background and wanted me to be more involved with their larger productions. However, I was already committed to competitive dance in the spring.

Competition dance became too much of a financial and time burden on my family. I was still dancing at a competitive level, just not traveling around with the studio. Because of this, I was able to commit myself to drama club. I auditioned for my first high school musical and made so many friends and enjoyed working with the cast. I enjoyed it so much, I even ran for an officer position for the next year. That ended up being my downfall.

Theatre-- much like sports teams-- require an insane amount of dedication. But my drama club's definition of dedication was too restricting for me and became the reason why I ultimate will not return to theatre.

Junior year was stressful on all levels, and the director added so much pressure to make theatre my entire high school career when I wanted to study or be more involved in other areas like broadcasting and communications, which I was actually considering to study in college. I could not take her second theatre class as it conflicted with my TV class. She cut me from shows and refused to let me dance. It made me absolutely miserable to sit in rehearsals watching the choreography I know I could master. I was never the ambitious, cut-throat performer- I wanted to sing and dance. She turned the theatre into politics and destroyed my interest in participating.

At this point, I felt so defeated my junior year, but dance was always a constant for me.

My ballet teacher asked me to be her student teacher and substitute on her competition team and it was the best thing to happen to me my junior year. She always made me feel wanted and appreciated. She saw my potential to be a great dancer and made sure I saw it too. Dance, ballet, in particular, has always been more rewarding to me because of the discipline and concentration she demanded from us. The entire time was dedicated to technique. My time never felt wasted compared to the long hours I sat on an auditorium only being on stage for ten minutes. I may only perform a recital dance once, but it made me so much happier than doing the same musical three times which made me miserable.

My younger sister still does musical theatre and she reminds me of the self-expression and stories that drew me into it in the first place.

I continue to support her and see her grow on stage to handle more mature and complicated roles. My mom asks me if I secretly miss being on stage. I am so fortunate to dance and have not completely abandoned the stage. My form of expression goes towards video and photography, but I will always choose a Broadway show over a sports game and still appreciate theatre for what it is.