Andi Whaley and I met as freshmen in NYU’s musical theater program 17(!!) years ago, and reconnected when she saw what I was doing as The When I Grow Up Coach. We traded sessions for kickboxing classes back in ’09 when she was at her Do I Still Wanna Be A Performer? crossroads. 4 years later, she’s a running coach, a graduate student, a writer & working for folks who think that her theatre background is an asset. I’m so impressed by her that I asked her to be a counselor for Career Camp – and to write something for us here.
Dear 4 years ago Andi,
Thank you for being brave. I know it’s not easy – but everything you are doing is just right. Let me spell it out to you:
- You’re really scared right now, because you just decided, at least in your mind, to leave New York City and make a clean break from auditioning. You don’t know if you have an identity beyond ‘struggling actress’. You do. You are a multi-potentialite, and over the next few years you will examine the day jobs, people and hobbies you gravitate towards and find a road map to who you really are. Will you grieve the loss of the dream of being a professional performer? Yes – but the fact that you pursued it will be an asset to you.
- You are broke and living in your married friends’ second bedroom, while planning to freeload at another couple’s house in Denver while you figure things out, and that makes you feel like a loser. You’re not. These friends are gifts and you will become closer with them and find ways to pay it back and forward. These wonderful points of light will serve as guides, touchstones and cheerleaders while making you laugh til you pee. They will also challenge you. Just be grateful and graceful.
- You feel like your blog is somewhere between utter nonsense, rehashed old information or public therapy. Embrace it. You are finding your voice as a writer, a coach and ultimately, a person. You are going to get to do some writing and get paid a little for Livestrong and a few other places, you’re going to coach a not-for-profit running program full of beginners who need your words, and you are going to find that your ability to break down concepts and write how you talk is going to serve you well in your new career.
- You have absolutely no idea what you want to do. Yes you do. You know. You know you want to teach, encourage and inspire. You know you want to live out loud, and not ask permission. You just don’t know what it looks like yet. I know it is hard to be confident in your decisions now, but you will learn sometime in the next couple of years to value what you have to contribute. It’s going to take a few false starts, but you’ll discover that you don’t have to always do the polite thing. You can find something better, sell yourself, and find yourself working for a company that is paying for your graduate degree and encourages your path towards Adult Education. They even value your charity work and make regular contributions towards a cause you’ve come to champion. You just have to ask questions and ask for what you need – and walk away in that polite way you have when you can’t get it in a reasonable amount of time.
- You think it might be too late. It’s not. I promise you. That guy friend who you lean on and who leans on you? Yes, that will progress, and then he will break your heart and throw you into a very dark corner of your life, where you will no longer think it’s too late, you will know it is. Let it happen. The other side is absolutely the golden time of your life thus far. When you decide to give up on how you thought it was going to be, how it actually is going to be will appear and it will fill your heart. Your team, your career, your adventures…and the love of your life, who will not appear to you if you don’t go through all the rest. You don’t know right now what it feels like to be loved that way – but you will, and suddenly it will seem like there is oodles of wonderful time ahead.
Four years ago Andi, you have a time of great transformation ahead that is going to come at you at break-neck pace, and the only thing you can do is trust your instincts, truly live in the moment – which feels a lot differently than you thought it did in Freshman Scene Study – and keep developing your time management skills. That last one isn’t sexy, but you have a lot of awesome stuff to do and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Don’t be afraid of making plans – you’ll know with all the instinct trusting and moment living when to let them change and when to hold fast.
I know you have to go scrub a shower at the martial arts school or something right now. Go scrub it. But know that your glorified janitor days are numbered, as are the cattle calls that you just can’t bring yourself to get up for anymore and the guilt that goes with that. Let the fear, guilt and anger go as much as you can: You are just becoming a different person and the more you relax and let it happen, the less it will hurt to shed your unwanted skin.
2013 Andi, a work in progress
Andi used to be a rejected, dejected, unfulfilled musical theatre actress afraid to walk away from what was no longer her dream – three years later she’s a running coach, a graduate student and working for folks who think that her theatre background is an asset. She’s been published on LIVESTRONG.com and met the love of her life while volunteering – because she can make time for that now.
TAGS: Happy HooplahPOSTED IN: Encouragement for EveryoneCOMMENTS: 2 Comments