I know I do. To say that the past semester/six months of my life have been an absolute test would be the grossest understatement of all time. While there were some definite highlights (looking at you, PR program and All-Night Yahtzee), the majority of it was unbelievably difficult. I lost a grandparent, my classes were UNBELIEVABLE, I took on a job AND a new club atop an intensive class schedule. I was called ugly three times (but who’s counting?), called “fat” on Valentine’s Day (a girl always remembers), and was told that I was “not fun” because I do not go out as much as everyone else does or as much as boys would have me go out.
So let’s break this down: I was physically drained from walking 5 miles each day to get around to classes because parking at FSU is so terrible. Having 2-4 hour rehearsals each day from mid-March to mid-April was rewarding, but compelelty exhausting. I was emotionally drained from putting myself out there (something that is really, really hard for me) only to be continuously rejected and in some cases, insulted. I was mentally drained from having to literally bid on points to prove that I deserved good grades in my classes. I missed my family and my friends from home. And atop it all, I had to deal with people being actual human nightmares to me.
You should know by now that when the going gets tough for me, I turn to Broadway. I am best inspired by inspiring performances. Here’s how I got through this semester. Perhaps it will be of use to you as well:
STEP 1: Acknowledge the Crapiness.
You have my full permission to throw yourself a pity party. “Boys think I’m ugly!””He bailed on me AGAIN!” “I’m never going to get out of here” are just things I would scream to my mom on the phone as devoured raw cookie dough like it was going out of style. Now, if you’re thinking “this sounds like a colossal mess,” you’re absolutely correct. It was a mess. It looked a lot like this performance by the Queen of Breaking Down, Trina, portrayed by the incomparable Stephanie J. Block. (Fun aside: SJB is nominated for a Tony for her role as Trina and I think the above performance from Falsettos proves that her nod is well-deserved).
Pretending things are fine and dandy works…except that it absolutely doesn’t. The more we try to pretend like things are fine, the bigger the inevitable break down. Mine arrived during Finals Week, a week crafted especially by Satan himself, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Tears were everywhere. There was yelling, as I’ve already mentioned. It was as if my personal goal was to prove that my mascaras were not, after all, waterproof. But man, did I feel better after I let myself go through that. Don’t get me wrong: in the aftermath of a break down, you absolutely feel as if you’ve just ran three marathons and then were hit by a transfer truck, but the next day, God, does it feel better. It is far from fixed, but that’s where Step 2 comes in.
STEP 2: Assess and Form a Plan.
Okay. Time to make a plan. Follow Elle Woods’ example. Make literal steps as to what you can do to improve your situation and achieve your goal. For me, I needed rest. I needed my self-confidence to return, as it had fled. Thanks to Laura Bell Bundy in Legally Blonde for this one. Also, hey Andy Karl 😉
I made my plan and I stuck to it. Another important thing to keep in mind is that there will be naysayers. Don’t listen to them. Do not get distracted. It will only get better if you commit to making it better. Set clear and concise goals and get at them. Be an Elle. Also, to hell with the “Warner”s of your world. Do it for yourself. Elle gets there eventually, but you can start by doing it all for you. Be about you. You can be your biggest fan while not being a selfish monster to others. If not you, then who?
STEP 3: Whole Again.
“And when the losing’s all done, I’m gonna shine like the sun.”
You’ve broken down. You’ve made a plan. You’ve followed it despite distraction and temptation to give up. Now is your time to be okay again. You’ll be better than okay. Life is too short to pretend things are fine when you have the power to make them actually be fine. It might be painful or scary–likely both– but you will feel so much better when you’ve taken control. Please watch as SJB, Megan Hilty, and Allison Janney belt their faces off in this inspiring, power ballad from 9 to 5.
Since the semester ended last week (possibly the hardest week of my entire life), I have rested and recharged. I’ve slept at least eight hours each night. I’ve gone on daily runs. I’ve taken my dogs to the park. I’ve spent time with my family. I followed my plan with conviction and I got the hell through it. My mom tells me I’m beautiful every day and while that doesn’t cancel out what I’ve been called before, I’m getting better and better at believing her when she says it. I ended up kicking ass in all of my classes. I got through the most testing time of my entire life and woke up with a smile on my face this morning.
I wish you only the happiest of times, but I also wish you the courage and endurance to make it through the not-so-happiest of times. I know that there will be more break downs. After all, I’m only halfway through undergrad and will likely (stupidly) get brave enough to put myself out there once again. It will all be worth it eventually. For you, too. Keep going.
Long ago during my basketball days (yikes), one of my coaches made us memorize inspirational phrases each practice. One that has stuck with me more than any other is “Pressure makes diamonds.” And addendum I’d provide is “…and not overnight.” It takes time. It takes making it through multiple break downs and trying times to get to where you need or want to be.
You’ll get there. I’m rooting for you. Now you root for you, too.
Love and light. HAPPY WEEKEND ❤