Even for people who eat, sleep, and breathe performing, the college audition process is grueling and stressful. It is painful, comes with a lot of rejection, and no one should be forced into it. Whether the high school senior is not ready to take the next step in theater quite yet, or he or she is simply uninterested in the major, pursuing a BFA is not always the right decision for everyone.
Unique to this industry, it is possible and common to work professionally at a young age. Because of this, some kids don't realize they can choose to chase other dreams as they become adults. Many people expect young performers to continue performing forever. As someone who no longer auditions on a regular basis, I am constantly questioned on the topic. Adults who have watched me grow up doing shows want to know why I just "gave it up."
The answer is that I didn't "give it up," rather I decided to follow other paths in my life.
When it came time to apply for college, I was approached with the decision whether or not to audition for BFA musical theater programs. Almost all of my friends from the industry were planning to do so, but I needed to decide if it was the right choice for me personally.
After thinking about what I wanted my college career to look like, I determined that I wanted things other than dance studios and voice practice rooms every day for 4 years. I knew I wanted to join a sorority and have free time to enjoy college life, and I knew those activities would be quite difficult if I chose to pursue musical theater.
For once I decided I wanted to be "normal," and being a "musical theater kid" is anything but that. I decided that in college, I didn't want to have to constantly reject invitations to social events due to rehearsals and lessons as I had done throughout my whole life prior. This isn't to say it is absolutely impossible to have a social life while studying performing arts, but it is significantly more difficult to hang out with anyone who is not in your program. There is nothing wrong with that, but I decided I wanted something different.
I strongly support all of my friends who are in BFA programs at their colleges, and I have absolutely nothing against the programs. Studying musical theater can be a dream come true for some, but I knew it wouldn't be for me.
I also know that there are other kids like me who need to know that a BFA in MT isn't the only option; it's a great option, but it's not the only one.
Every day I feel lucky to have had the childhood I did in the vibrant world of musical theater; the experiences prepared me for so much more than just performing, and I carry the lessons with me everywhere I go. I am thankful that theater has played such a large role in my life, but I am also relieved I knew when it was time to take a step back.