When people ask me what I do, I’m never quite sure what to say. At the moment I’m in grad school, studying educational theatre. When I’m not in classes, I work as an assistant director and stage manager for musical theatre productions in schools and with a community troupe. I have an experiential background in performance (acting, singing, dancing), but my diplomas read “Bachelor of Arts in Psychology” and “Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.”
Once upon a time, I had a “Plan”: I would go to school to study theatre and become an Actor. Then, life happened. I didn’t even get as far as college auditions because, suddenly, I couldn’t remember my choreography for a community theatre production of Anything Goes in which I’d recently been cast. I assumed my cognitive dysfunction was a side-effect of the medication I’d been prescribed for depression and anxiety because that’s what my doctors told me. So I turned my back on the theatre and focused on my other passion: psychology. I earned my BA and was working towards my master’s degree when I was finally given the correct diagnosis of Lyme Disease.
Over the years, I had been misdiagnosed with innumerable conditions on top of the initial diagnoses of depression and anxiety. Somehow, I managed to complete my master’s program (with distinction) and then commenced with what would turn into 5-plus years of disability and treatment for Lyme Disease and associated co-infections.
I’ll spare you the gruesome details and just say that recovery felt like a miracle, because 1) it doesn’t happen for everyone, and 2) I regained the cognitive ability I’d lost prior to college (and even more-so thereafter). It felt like a second chance. As my health improved, I worked alongside my cousin, who had been teaching theatre and dance to kids, as well as directing and choreographing musical theatre productions, for about twenty years. My résumé grew as I assisted her with production after production, slowly realizing that, instead of dusting off my master’s degree in counseling, I wanted to work with kids and continue making theatre.
Eventually, I applied to (and was accepted into) the program where I’m currently studying, and I can say with 100% certainty that I am exactly where I’m meant to be. I’m still figuring out how I want to use my education — for example, I’ve come to the conclusion that I do not want to become a certified teacher. What I do includes teaching, but is more a process of facilitation. I’m also very interested in learning more about the use of expressive arts (fine art, theatre, dance, writing) as therapeutic tools in promoting growth and self-discovery in children and adults.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way I’m going to figure out how I want to use my education is by fully immersing myself in what I’m doing, here and now, seizing opportunities as they’re presented to me. In focusing on the present I allow my creative self & ideas to evolve and emerge more organically than if I were to plan for the future before I have the information necessary to make a decision I know I’ll be happy with a year, five years, a decade from now.
This blog is where I intend to reflect on my experiences as a student-artist-facilitator-creative human being in an attempt to refine my understanding of what it means to be all of these things and to carve out a place for myself to operate as such in the world.