2015: it was a year of incredible blessings, getting an IMDb, doing video shoots, filming Nashville, making difficult decisions, questioning those decisions, pushing myself, presidential business, senior prom, senior prank, graduation, and most importantly new beginnings. As I prepare to ring in the New Year, I am reflecting on this past year while looking forward to the journeys 2016 will present.
One of the people who graduated a few years ahead of me at my high school, someone who I have always looked up to in musical theatre but even more so as a person, recommended The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. In this novel, a shepherd boy travels the world to find the place he sees in multiple dreams. Along the way he meets many interesting characters that influence his life and his search in some way. Eventually he finds the Pyramids and his treasure while being sure God would lead him home to his love. As you can probably gather, the boy’s story is a metaphor for the gatekeepers and dreams in our own lives: “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Coelho’s work struck me deep in my core. I thought about all of the gatekeepers in my life, as well as God’s orchestration thus far on the plan He has for my life. I contemplated my college decision and the story I wanted my life to tell. I realized that in fear, I had taken the safest path: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” I don’t believe God gives talents not to be used: “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” I have realized that if my whole being (especially my heart) tells me I should be doing one specific thing, I should probably listen: “Don’t give into your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” The book also reinforced the idea that no matter how far you get from the path you’re supposed to be on, you can always veer back to the one you’re destined to be on.
My first semester of college flew by, but it wasn’t everything I had hoped for. So often on social media we “put on a happy face,” as they say in one of my favorite musicals, Bye Bye Birdie. Yes, I made friends. Yes, I learned a ton. Yes, I loved my professors. But does all of that automatically equal happiness? I was my happiest this semester when I was performing and rehearsing the fall production.
College presents so many challenges, especially socially. When you don’t feel like you are a part of some bigger picture, it’s hard to feel like you’re where you’re supposed to be. I thought I could go to school and be satisfied with doing straight theatre and dance and voice individually while focusing on core classes, but as the semester ended, I felt like a part of me was missing. Not a day went by where I didn’t miss musical theatre, regret not going to New York City or pursuing a BFA at Belmont or other schools.
After reading The Alchemist, I began to see how living life with regret and questioning a greater plan, which I had done all semester, could be detrimental to achieving all of my aspirations for the future OR could be a gateway into the right path. It was then that I decided for this next semester I would go into it with a different mindset. Regardless of where I study in the future, undergrad or grad schools, I want to make this next semester count. I will Rush. I will join the University Choir. I will focus on dance, voice, and theatre. I will live each moment to its fullest, thinking about the present, not necessarily always living in preparation for the future. But most of all, I will continue to dream.
In 2016, dream a new, impossible dream folks, it’s what keeps us going.
“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”