The Quest for Adulthood; or, How I Became an Ogre
This is quite a prompt for me to start this blog with. I’ve been struggling with my thoughts on adulthood and growing up for some time now. I’ve also been struggling to come up with a first post for this. Childhood was a lot of play for me. I worked hard at play and not necessarily at work. I lived my childhood in denial of adulthood. Anything I could do to stay young and happy, I’d do it.
I remember being in Sunday school, for the very short time I was in Sunday school, and we played charades with what we wanted to be when we grow up. We were six or seven so we all chose the jobs that we knew we were supposed to: firefighter, doctor, policeman. I took a similar path with EMT but I recall thinking of it as ambulance driver and “person who puts people into ambulances.” Not because I wanted to be an EMT, you see, but because I thought it would be the most interesting to pantomime.
I discovered theatre in Boy Scouts when I was in middle school. I always loved to be a part of the skits and songs and be on stage and get noticed. I also discovered Weird Al in middle school and I forced my family to watch me sing and dance along with his songs (and fifteen years later, he still cracks me up!) When I went into high school I signed up for a drama class and the ball started rolling. I was in drama every year and I starred in My Favorite Year when I was a junior.
I also joined our local Boy Scout affiliated Native American dance group, the Hitchiti Dancers. When I tell people this, the follow up question is always, “are you Native American?” The answer is no, I’m your average honky with the special privilege of being born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The culture there is amazingly entrenched with Native everything so it’s always been a part of my family. I joined Hitchiti and I got pretty darn good at it. I placed first in Grass Dance three years in a row at Section Conference (nerdy Boy Scout get together, state level) and almost made top ten at NOAC (nerdy Boy Scout get together, national level,) if I didn’t overstep my last dance. In addition to individual competition, Hitchiti performed all over our community. We had a repertoire of highly honky-fied versions of native dances. We had a reserved spot at the South Florida Fair every year until recent unfortunate times struck the group. Being a Grass Dancer, I usually started off the shows by doing a dance to bless the ground. I would never have admitted it but I loved the fact that I was always the first person on stage.
When it was time to go to college, I picked the only major I wanted (theatre) and the only college I knew I could get into without much of a fight (the cheapest and closest.) When I told people of my decision, I was either met with positive “That’s so you!” responses or polite smiles and nods with an unspoken “Why would anyone do that to themselves?” I didn’t care. I loved it. I did what I loved. I was in shows, I studied acting, I built sets, I made great friends, and I never listened to anyone who ever remotely suggested that what I was doing was wrong. I submerged myself in theatre and performance and I was simply happy being there. I usually never thought about my future or how I was going to pay bills or even what I was going to do once I was no longer in school. I was just happy to be with like-minded people working on projects together. I didn’t want to grow up. I would always say to myself that I need to figure out how to get paid to do the things love but I never thought about how to get there.
When I graduated in 2011, I entered the work force and took my place in the rat race. I worked my bum off with no time any longer for theatre fun and barely time to spend with my friends. Then I fell in love and moved to the theatre mecca of the world, New York City, and I just kept up the race. I got myself into thousands of dollars of credit card debt, I work the wonkiest hours and don’t get the sleep I need to function correctly, I lost a lot of my friends, I constantly let my girlfriend down because I can’t keep up with my responsibilities, I haven’t been on stage in almost three years, and now I’m 26 years old and I’m still in denial of adulthood.
When adults tell kids about growing up, they often neglect to mention that the final requirement is to pass through a rigorous journey of fire and brimstone, of fighting dangerous beasts and scaling great mountains with nary a princess to save or a feast in your honor at the end. That’s your 20s. Or least that’s my 20s. I feel that every thing I’ve done since leaving school and being faced with growing up has been a laundry list of stupid-hard quests on the text-based video game of life that you only have the floppy disk for and are left to figure out how to play on your own. You go right, a giant spider attacks, you die. You go left, a treasure chest!… Full of spiders… You die. You go forward, some son-of-a-bitch wizard turns you into an ogre and you fall into a deep depression, alienate your loved ones, and bash your head against the computer screen until it bleeds.
But there is hope. I found at least one of the cheat codes to this game recently and I’m feeling better about my situation. Hence the reason for starting this blog. Today my future looks a little bit brighter because of people who believe in me. I still don’t know what I’m going to do with this degree in theatre but at least there is *some* hope. The hope that I will find a treasure chest full of actual treasure some day. And not die.