I’m technically a senior in college. I started my first semester in the fall of 2012 right after graduating high school. I’m supposed to graduate in May and I’ll definitely have the credits to do so, but I won’t be. And this is NOT the position that I thought I’d find myself in when I first started college. I knew exactly what I wanted to do… or so I thought. I kept changing my mind about my career, my extra-curricular activities, and everything else. Finally, I got to a point in my college career where I knew for sure exactly how the rest of my time at my university would pan out. I was finally doing what I loved! But very recently (this semester, to be exact), things changed. My plans started falling apart and I didn’t know what I was going to do again. I’m learning to be okay with that and I’m learning to accept that right now, because this is exactly where I’m supposed to be.
Starting out sure
When I came to college in 2012, I was going to be a journalist. I just knew it. I was going to do the NBC Page Program in New York and I was going to find a way to become the next Oprah. But then something funny happened. I took an Introduction to Theater class to fulfill my general education requirement. It was a three-hour night class that met once a week and there were about 80 students in it. Most of them hated it, but I loved that class! I was introduced to theater when I was very young (in middle school), but since then, I hadn’t considered having anything else to do with theater until I took this class. It inspired me to pick up a minor in Theater.
Changing my plans
While being a Theater minor, I took an introductory Acting class that was required for the minor and I quickly became enamored with the art! Towards the end of the class, my professor pulled me aside and informed me of something called the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting Program that the university had. Basically, this was a four-year professional acting training program designed for students to be ready to dive into the theater industry upon graduating. The program consisted of intensive training in acting, voice, and movement, as well as a semester abroad in Russia training at the Moscow Art Theater School. As excited as I was to possibly become a part of this program, I knew that I wasn’t ready for something like this. Instead, I decided to major in Theater Studies (pursuing a Bachelor of Arts) and minor in Journalism.
Proud to be an actor
I felt so proud to be a Theater major! I took a Storytelling class and for our final, we had to perform a personal narrative as part of our School of Theater and Dance’s season show. It was my first time, in a very long time, performing in front of an audience that wasn’t just my fellow classmates – and the experience was incredibly exhilarating. After a year of being a Theater major, I decided to audition for the BFA Acting Program, completely dropping Journalism altogether. A week after auditioning, I got the email saying that I’d been accepted into the program. I was about to start my junior year of college at this point, meaning that I would graduate in 2018 instead of 2016, due to being a freshman in the program.
I loved being a BFA Actor (and it felt AWESOME to hear people refer to me as an “actor”). I met a group of amazing people who I got to share all of my performance classes with. I had the opportunity to perform in shows every semester, and I couldn’t wait to graduate with a professional degree that I found to be very prestigious, in my own way. But I still wasn’t happy and I couldn’t figure out why. This is what I was supposed to want to do! I loved being on stage and I deeply appreciated the level of training I was receiving, but I was starting to lose touch with other things and people who I cared about.
Taking on too much
In between my second and third year of college, I picked up a minor in LGBT Studies and I had no time to focus on that at all. I didn’t have the time to join any organizations on campus, I didn’t have time to work a part-time job (which I desperately needed this semester) and I barely saw my friends outside of theater. I also recently started a YouTube channel, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, and due to intense in-class and out-of-class work and rehearsals, I couldn’t even focus on that. I felt as if I was losing sight of everything else that was important in my life.
Adjusting my plans
My life was all theater all day and though I loved it, I missed having the time to focus on other things as well. I was so anxious, so stressed, and in such a financial strain (which I could do nothing about because I didn’t have the time to work) that I considered leaving school in order to work and pay my bills. Finishing the BFA Program was no longer a financial option at this point. My advisor talked me out of that. Instead, I changed my major back a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Theater Studies. With the classes that I’d taken before I joined the BFA Program and with my general education courses being completed, I’d graduate about a year late (2017) instead of two entire years late (2018). So now, starting next semester, I’ll have the time to focus on my minor, my finances, my relationship with my friends, and YouTube (of course!). And upon graduating, there is still the option to go for a Master’s of Fine Arts in Acting (having a BFA isn’t required for the Master’s) and I don’t ultimately have to have an Acting degree to become an actor. I believe that things will play out exactly as they were meant to.
So while changing majors (and changing plans) is something I’ve become well acquainted with, these experiences have taught me that no matter how much you plan, nothing is certain. Life is going to happen and there are going to be inevitable obstacles that may keep you from immediately reaching your goals. At the end of the day, no one else is going to live your life, so you have to do what’s best for you in your situation. There may be setbacks, but that’s all just part of the crazy journey that we call life.