Did you ever make a life altering decision and act on it (without a second thought), only to realize later “HOLY CRAP, DID I REALLY JUST DO THAT?”
On June 1st, 2017, a month after graduating college with a BFA in Musical Theater and no money to my name, I packed a U-Haul with one of my best friends and moved to New York City to pursue my goal of being on Broadway.
Did I cry on the 14 hour drive from Chicago to New York City?
Maybe a little.
Did I feel overjoyed about this new step in life?
Was I scared out of my mind?
You bet I was.
But I was ready to face the challenge—or so I thought.
Life in New York was so much different than I could have ever envisioned. Tv shows like “Friends” and “Sex and the City” may look glamorous, but they don’t show the dirty and soul sucking parts of the city; the endless hours on the MTA, packed streets, and homeless men and women on every corner.
I moved into a room that really should have been classified as a glorified closet. It had enough room for my twin bed and bookshelf with a tiny sliver of room to walk from the door to my bed. It was rough. I never felt at home in my new space, which left me feeling constantly drained. Also being an actor in the city was not as magical as I had hoped. I woke up at 5 am to go to auditions only to be told once I got there that they were not seeing non-union actors- AKA Me. This happened more often than not and I felt like everything I had been training for in college was suddenly non-existent.
All of this and more led to one of the most depressive episodes of my life. This city full of lights, people, and possibilities all of a sudden felt oppressive and soul sucking.
Since I was 9 years old I have dealt with severe anxiety- the kind of anxiety where I wouldn’t be able to breathe or think straight if a panic attack ensued. I was always waiting for the next attack to happen. It was a horrible way to live. My first few months in New York I had at least one panic attack every day and a fit of tears on the phone with my mom back in Tennessee.
Then I discovered a book.
This simple yellow cover called to me on the train one day. A woman was reading it on the packed A-train and nodding emphatically to something she was reading. I took a peek at the cover and discovered the title “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by author Jen Sincero. The woman looked so moved by this simple block of paper that I knew I wanted to read it. That day I ran to the Amazon book store and with the money I had allocated for pizza that night (my dinner almost every day for a while) I bought that little yellow book and immediately started reading it on the train ride home.
And from then on my life changed.
I kid you not when I say that this book drastically changed how I perceive the world around me. I read about a woman much like me who had a goal and felt as though she kept failing to achieve it. But then she realized that the universe was full of possibilities and only SHE could be the one to take control.
From then on I drastically changed my life. Sure I still had a lot of trials: I was evicted from my apartment, was working 3 jobs, and still barely made my bills: but I no longer let the world dictate how I should be feeling. I took charge of my life and decided to say “COME AT ME UNIVERSE! GIVE ME ALL YOU GOT!”
And something magical happened.
The universe finally began to give back.
I found a new apartment, was cast in 3 consecutive shows, received my equity card (joined the actors union), and began going to therapy. This little yellow book gave me the courage to start over and not be afraid of what lies ahead. I made daily affirmations to repeat in the mirror to remind myself what I was fighting for.
Of course the dark cloud of anxiety was still there.
Some days I woke up and wanted to do nothing more than lay in bed watching tv all day and ignore the outside world; but with therapy, support from my friends and family, working out, and this little yellow book, I finally had the tools to grab life by the reigns and take charge again.
And once again, when the universe began to fight against my happiness, something magical occurred. I posted about my little yellow book and my post it note aspirations and the author of the book, Jen Sincero took note. She reposted a picture I had taken in front of the mirror holding her book surrounded by my post it’s on her Instagram as her “Badass of the Week”. Suddenly, I had hundreds of people reaching out to me, sharing my story, reading my blog, and telling me their own stories.
It was a beautiful way to be reminded that you are never alone in your struggle.
People all over are going through similar trials, and if you put yourself out there someone will latch on. Someone will come through to show you that you aren’t alone in this insane world.
My story began with a little yellow book and a whole lot of drive.
So, what will your catalyst be?