It's a little surreal driving to class as the chilly weather starts to creep in, while I to chew over the thought that I'm starting my last year of college. Sure, sure it's technically my fifth year but who said the traditional path is always the best path for everyone?
These past four years have been an absolute whirlwind. Freshman year I joked with Jess that college just felt like an extended camp spent away from a high school that still had an empty desk waiting for me. Aaaaaaand I still kind of feel like that. I'm stoked for the real world, but I still feel like college has been a long hiatus that's allowed me to hone in on a specific field of focus.
While I feel that I've grown incredibly as an actor and performer and I owe the absolute world to my professors and colleagues in my department, I've become insanely aware of how much Christy as an individual has evolved. I've experienced an unbelievable amount of stress, pain, heartbreak, confusion, and loss in the amount of time it takes to properly train a dog.
I feel like I can break down all four years into four different labelled chapters in my evolution.
Freshman Year: The Breakdown
And not like "The Getdown" type of breakdown. I mean the breakdown breakdown. The breakdown of who I thought I was as a person and what scrims I stood behind. A bit of trauma occurred over the summer leading up to it that shook my foundation and caused a fresh eruption of depression to make itself more acquainted with my daily life. I became shell-shocked, for a lack of better words. I locked myself away in my dorm, or sometimes in my bathroom when Jess came home, and avoided conversation, real eye contact and anything with a pulse. This warm blanket of sorrow hung around my shoulders kept me from joining friends for dinner, cancelled plans to go to parties, tallied up my class absences, and seduced me back to retreating to what I thought was the solace of my bed.
At this point, my degree in acting was assisting me in feigning a sense of "okay" as I crept through my semester and built friendships that were too fresh to feel like home yet. Now I'm not saying my first year was entirely horrible, of course I ultimately developed lasting friendships and created some typical fun college memories, but this year in my mind is always ruled by the year that my depression really began to become who I was.
I didn't know much about it, I didn't know how it worked or how to try and combat it so I enjoyed bathing in its warm familiar waters.
Sophomore Year: An Introduction To Love
It sounds cliche af but everybody has their first love and learns a hell of a lot from it. Mine just so happened to be someone who was off limits but I managed to fall for anyway. Naturally, this caused a divide in a friendship and in turn a divide in my department. The departmental divide was shocking to me- I bit my tongue and refused to share my end of the story out of respect and this ultimately showed me who genuinely knew me and cared for me. I don't hold any grudges against anyone about anything now, but at the time this was difficult. I'd felt like the villain and this gave Alex and I an "us-against-the-world" mentality that sounded dangerous, but actually gave me a feeling of individualism that I hadn't really experienced before.
I started to stop caring about what people thought about me; I didn't feel that I needed to try and be friends with everyone, or try and appease everyone with my actions. Starting this relationship was something that I felt was the healthiest option for myself and I followed it, and though it did eventually hurt both of us, I have absolutely no regrets about any of it.
Let me take a moment and preface everything I'm about to go into with an apology to whoever feels I'm airing my dirty laundry. However, like I've always said in regards to my blog- this is my kitchen and if you don't like my cooking then you can excuse yourself from the table.
Alex gave me a more solidified feeling of confidence in myself. I've always considered myself a fairly confident individual, but for a long while, this man spoke to me like I was a queen- something that I'd never expected and still don't expect out of anyone I'm seeing. He was the first person to fall in love with me after seeing all of my faults and cracks and skeletons in my closet. He made me realize that it's okay to be a little broken, that everyone's a little broken but that doesn't mean that we can't love or be loved.
Junior Year: The Backside of Magic
I honestly don't remember much of my junior year at Towson, but I identify this year mostly by my Disney College Program. I spent six long months living outside of Orlando, Florida in an apartment with seven other girls working for a giant mouse. While I wanted to call it quits and come home for the first few months of the program, I eventually discovered that this was the first place where I was entirely on my own, surrounding myself with a new life full of strangers that had absolutely zero preconceived notions of who I was or what my backstory consisted of. Because of this, I still think that this was one of the first moments in my life that I had felt completely like myself. I felt at home in my skin, and unafraid of how others might perceive me.
That summer showed me a new side of myself and a new love for strangers. I discovered that I feed off of the energy of others, and not just that but I adore getting to know new people and developing fresh relationships.
On a different note, I ruined some of the "Disney magic" for myself, which meant that I finally had to lay my childhood to rest. I was officially starting to become an adult and as much as this excited me, it also totally freaked me out. For the first time in my life, I was entirely financially and personally independent. I think I asked my parents for money a total of two times- both times being a little request for a late night pizza. I also didn't feel like I had anyone hovering over my shoulder judging the decisions I was making- how I was spending my money, who I was hanging out with, where I was spending the night, et cetera. By the end of my program I'd never felt more like a solid individual who could take responsibility for my decisions and joys.
Senior Year: The Split
Coming home from such a liberating program meant moving back into my parents' house and struggling to maintain a job, a full course load and packed rehearsal schedules. I like to think of this year as "The Split" for two reasons:
One- the splitting of Christy as an individual and Christy as an actor.
After getting cast in Cabaret as a role that I personally felt I was completely unqualified for and unprepared for (don't tell my director this! he clearly saw something in me that I had yet to), I needed to figure out how to get over my own personal limitations and step up. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the character of the Emcee and why I felt this man was the opposite of who I felt I was- imagine placing a raunchier version of Jessica Rabbit next to Tina Belcher. I personally felt like I was Tina Belcher and Jessica Rabbit was the Emcee. How was I, an awkward, unsexy but nerdy-charming girl supposed to embody this grunchy sexual icon?
I'm not really sure where/ when the shift happened but I can say that after walking away from final bows of the show, I'm walking away not only proud of the hours and hours of sweat, tears, physical pain, and long nights of research, but I'm walking away with a newfound sexual and individual confidence in myself. I'm not only confident in my working ability and efforts as an actor, but a newfound comfortability in my own sexuality.
Two- the splitting of who I was depending on where and when I was.
I hate to admit this still, but for some reason I began to find myself altering how I acted and filtered myself based off of who was around me. This happened pretty immediately once I moved back home and though it's since sort of burned off, I can feel that I still catch myself biting my tongue or pretending to be a watered down version of myself in front of specific people. However, I was still lucky enough to have people in my life who reminded me of who I was by simply being with them.
The summer after my senior year (this past summer), also really hit me hard. Within the first few months I lost both of my grandparents. My grandfather's passing was so unexpected that we moved my grandma Yoshiko into our home where I began caring for her full time. I had been gearing up for a summer-long trip to California and this sudden shift in plans was a little disorienting. Caring for Yoshiko was an experience that I am beyond words for. And watching her go was something else that I feel that I still haven't been able to fully grasp yet.
Once again, my depression slipped back into the dark corners of my room and made its way under my covers when I'd curl into bed at night. I honestly don't think anything had ever shook me in a way that the month of June had.
The big difference between the comfortability with my depression my freshman year and this point, was my awareness of it all. I noticed its lulling song and surrounded myself with people who (whether they were aware of it or not) helped combat my feeling of desperate loneliness.
Eventually I made it out to LA and had an incredible time. I could (and probably will) write a whole blog post on the lessons learned (good and bad) about myself while I was out there, so I'll move on for now.
Super Senior Year: ? ? ?
This year's already had an interesting start. I've noticed the personal problems and monsters under my bed that I'm fighting, but for once I feel like I'm ready to starting intentionally dealing with them.
Without even really realizing, I've managed to only surround myself with people who make me feel like I'm worth something and like everything is going to be okay. People who I've already had those long after-rehearsal talks with. People who know how busy life gets and doesn't panic about the status of our friendships. People who make me feel invigorated and wonderful and peaceful all at once.
I'm meeting with a counselor because I've finally realized that I can't do everything on my own. As incredible as these people make me feel, and as cathartic as it is to cry and talk to and curl up in someone's lap, I still need real help with dealing with these deep-seeded issues. I think I can give myself a nice little pat on the back for having fought these fights on my own for so long, and a well-deserved "thank you" to everyone who's been there for me in the process of dealing with it, but I've begun to realize that there are other little nuances that've hurt me and gotten to my head that I need help straightening out.
I have issues and faults and flaws that I'm aware of and want to work on. And I'm excited (and low key terrified) to see where this final year takes me.
It may be a little soon to be so reflective about a stage in my life that I haven't necessarily completed yet, but on an over-cast, slightly brisk day like today it feels like something I needed to do for myself. I'm spending the holiday weekend at home (essentially alone) with my little brother who stashes himself away in the basement and I've already begun to feel rather lonely and unsure of what I'm doing with my life.
So by reminiscing on where the past four years have taken me, I now feel like everything hasn't been for nothing. I'm something. And even though I'm really nothing in the grand scheme of things, I still share this world with other people and I want to make sure that I have the best energy to offer as an input.