It’s a known fact that my best friend, Robert, thinks I’m a terrible driver. Join us for a road trip and my bet is that we’ll drive a total of 4 minutes down the road before Robert throws out a highly critical and in no way subtle piece of driver’s ed “advice” such as:
“Have you ever heard of a turn signal?”
“Are we going to die today? We almost just died with that left hand turn you made.”
“I’m just curious– do you actually know what the speed limit is or are you just guessing?”
While driving with Robert is mostly a series of passive aggressive arguments underscored by show tunes, I will admit (and don’t ever tell him I said so…) that he does have a point– I should absolutely prepare myself and others by using my turn signal. But sometimes… like, I don’t know, maybe this entire year… even when I tried to use my metaphorical turn signal, it got stuck or flat out didn’t work. And where does that leave a person? Speaking from experience, it left me making abrupt, unexpected and sometimes life-altering decisions that rattled the entire car and not to mention– completely blindsided the drivers behind me, all those people that thought I was on a direct route. In the last weekend of 2018 I find myself reflecting on the year and the best metaphor that comes to mind are all of those times when I’ve suddenly made a turn–perhaps because I’ve nearly passed the Sonic– and Robert screams, “What are you doing?” right at the moment the cast of Rent belts out the last note of “No Day But Today” and cars honk their horns behind us.
Unexpected Turns of 2018
I thought I would never be able to financially support myself… now I’m living on my own.
I thought I would die before I gave up acting… now, it’s been almost a full calendar year since I’ve highlighted lines in a script and as a result of this “artistic break”, I’ve realized I have so much more to offer creatively than to recite someone else’s words in a way that is pleasing to a specific director’s vision. As of right now, I’m more interested in writing the scripts than performing the lines… and I have absolutely no desire to turn back.
I thought I’d be reapplying for graduate acting programs towards the end of 2018. I thought I couldn’t pursue anything else because any other discipline would require real intellect and original ideas– which was, as an actor, not something I was praised for… now, I have shocked everyone (most of all, myself) by applying to (and securing an interview for!!) a graduate program in mental health counseling. Maybe I can inspire others off stage in real life for once.
I thought I wouldn’t be complete without another person… now, I’m embracing this single season as a completely vital step in reclaiming my independent womanhood.
I thought family was something I didn’t need to fuel me because I was convinced that my family would never understand me or be proud of my choices. I thought, “I can never desire a family of my own because my lifestyle will never allow for it”… now, I’ve realized that family is the root of everything. It’s what matters most, what keeps me going, and what I’m striving for.
And lastly, I used to think in terms of “Why is this happening to me?”… now, I’m prouder than ever to say that I’ve turned that question around by rephrasing it with, “What can I learn from this?”
As pessimistic as I was, I couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of 2018 that I would now approach crisis moments with a steadfast growth mindset, but, walking into 2019, I know I will make the same mistakes as before if I proceed without it. I don’t say this to boast, to pat myself on the back, or invite in recognition for “how far I’ve come”. I say this to challenge you. You might think that you aren’t capable of changing your perspective. You might think that 2019 will be just another year of you not getting the things you deserve and falling short of the mark. Let me tell you friend, it doesn’t have to be that way and believe me, it all starts with you. You can start today–before January 1st even!– by surprising yourself and being your own best advocate.
New Years Resolution
Instead of setting a list of goals for 2019, I’m going to do something different this year. I’m going to pick a word (maybe two) to be my “theme” for the year. If you’re a person that gets overwhelmed with lists and sticking to a plan, I encourage you to consider doing the same… This year I vow to use my turn signal–yes, while driving (you’re welcome, Robert) but also as it relates to my life metaphor from earlier. With the knowledge that unexpected events are bound to happen, I’m choosing to prepare myself (and the drivers behind me) with patience and acceptance. I feel that these are two qualities that go hand in hand– patience that things will work out in the time they are meant to and acceptance for the things that are out of my control.
What is your one (or two) word theme for 2019?