Contrary to how I may sometimes present myself, I am far from being a go-with-the-flow person.
I like knowing, I like direct communication, and I like planning. And I love when plans turn out how they are planned. And, make no mistake, I’m not saying that’s the best way to be by any means; but that’s just how I tend to align. So when opening night happened last Thursday and I didn’t make it onstage on time during one of the biggest dance numbers due to a quick change, it’s probably no surprise to you when I say that my mental state wasn’t too great.
Oh, hi again my readers. If you haven’t already heard from my Facebook spam and Youtube channel, I’m currently performing in the National Tour of Miss Saigon. And for those of you OGs that remember, no; I didn’t even “need to have it in my book.” 😉
Not quick-changing fast enough might not seem like a big deal to some, specifically those who haven’t done live theatre before, but it can be frustrating, anxiety-flaring, and even infuriating.
Imagine for just a moment: You have on a set of clothes that you need to strip off in order to put new ones on. You know exactly how much time you have to complete the task, and how much you have to do. You’re in the darkness, you can hear the music pounding, getting closer and closer to your cue to run back onstage, and you can feel that you aren’t going fast enough. You feel yourself running out of time with each second, each note, that passes and you know exactly how much left you have to do and you are fighting like hell to get that last piece on when, at last, you hear the cue and see your other colleagues running out onto the stage. And just when you finally complete the costume change, you turn around to see an empty space onstage where you’re supposed to be standing.
Of course when that moment happened, I ran out as soon as I could and simply jumped in where everyone else was in the choreography. However my thoughts and feelings lingered way past that missed entrance.
The older I get, change feels quicker and quicker. For most of my life, I considered one of my strongest qualities to be my adaptability; and that I was more adaptable than most. I felt that change was fun and challenging and that it ignited something in me. And I still do feel this way at times, however I’m noticing that that malleability has given way to depth. Deeper meaning and deeper feelings. And that’s fine I suppose, but I notice that with this depth comes a certain resistance within myself towards change.
I could go more into that, but life isn’t about having a fixed mindset or clinging so hard onto your thought patterns or expectations that you harden yourself with resentment each and every time they aren’t met. So here’s what this post is going to be about:
Breathing through the quick changes.
In my experience, whenever there is attachment to something, change feels abrupt and difficult and sometimes even impossible to accept. I’m a sensitive person, and sometimes that means I let things affect me in a not-so-healthy way. I’m working towards shifting that part of myself, but the truth is that the work doesn’t happen overnight.
Between adjusting to living on land for the first time in two years (from doing the whole shiplife thing), to moving to New York City and learning how to live there, to coping with my first real period of unemployment and not knowing what was next, to moving my life into a suitcase to go tour from city to city, change has been hugging me tight lately (and I’m not even mentioning all of it). Between all these different situations of change, it has either felt frustrating, infuriating, or anxiety-inducing at at least one point or another. Because, surprise, behind all of the #gratitude #blessed #soexcitedtoannounce posts, anxiety is right there in the shadows.
But in the midst of change, I realize one concrete thing over and over again; something that no circumstance or person could ever change:
The fact that I will always have myself.
For as long as I am able to think and feel and breathe in this life, I will always have myself. My physical body (that I strengthen and appreciate every day), my mind (complex and rapid and ever-growing), and my ability to make choices (perhaps the most powerful quality of all). I will always have myself. And that’s the most beautiful thing that change couldn’t ever touch.
In my darkest moments of simultaneously being unemployed and living in New York, I learned how to re-parent myself and change my way of thinking. I realized that people and resources are there to assist me in doing that. I learned that the dance between self-preservation and letting (the right) people see my soul is some of the richest gold of all. I realized that I have it in me to change my life and bring things into my life, the good and the bad. I still realize this every single day.
The quick changes in the show still get to me. Whenever we change cities, we have new dressers (people who help with costuming) and whenever I run offstage to do the quick changes and see a big fat question mark in the eyes of my dresser I internally (and externally) go into panic mode. However. Sometimes I will have that golden moment where I take a step back and realize that when I panic I don’t breathe, and realize that breathing is the exact thing that will get me through this change. Physically, it will make my hands stop shaking and grabbing for air instead of the costume. It will take the tension out of my shoulders and neck. Mentally, it will calm me and help me think logically- of what is the best, most efficient way to get this damn sash on. And emotionally, it will remind me that the situation isn’t life-or-death, and that I will be just fine.
And isn’t that the exact thing about life.
Change can be scary, confusing, and downright awful. However we will always get through it if we literally just breathe. Take it in, then let it go. Hold, then release. Inhale, exhale.
I’m only weeks into tour, but I’m already grasping a very simple, very key concept: life moves on. It doesn’t halt; for the good stuff, the bad stuff, or the everything in between. No matter what you’re going through, it will pass because time passes and life happens. And isn’t that the most comforting thing about this shit show we are all actors in?