16 February 2018

On Encouragement

'Encouragement' is a concept I've pondered a lot since I began to take my calling as a performing artist seriously.

We as artists say we want to encourage people. We as Christians say one of our goals is to encourage each other.

So how does an artist encourage someone? Especially if you're a dance artist -- one who performs without words? Anyone can write a song with the lyric 'don't give up,' but how do you communicate that clearly in dance? Do you bother trying to say something so abstract so clearly? What about all the art that deals with the hardships of life -- the stuff that actually resonates because it touches on things so deep yet so common? Can only sugary sweet, 'safe and fun' art encourage?

Yet in my own artistic intake I continually find myself going back not to the happy, smile-a-minute songs, but to the ones that acknowledge -- no, press into -- deep pain. My favourite Terry Scott Taylor album of all time was written out of the loss of his grandfather and his oldest child within months of each other. It was in these expressions of melancholy and frustration and deep pain that I found solace. It was these songs, these albums, that gave the me courage to keep going. It was that knowledge -- that at least one other person on the planet, at at least one point in their life, had felt this despondency -- that kept my own despondency from swallowing me.

I came up against this concept again last year when, in the most intense and prolonged mental/emotional/spiritual struggle of my life (thus far), my church hung me out to dry. They told me I was too negative. Many stopped speaking to me, and those who didn't made no secret of their frustration with my despondency and repeatedly told me, 'you need to be happier,' 'you should be over this already,' 'you're not trying hard enough.' One person in leadership actually told me (in writing), 'Kate, it is your responsibility to encourage people by being happier.'

I was dying -- literally dying. And all they told me was 'it's your fault we don't give a crap about you.' They wanted me to earn what they should have been giving freely.

The other day, out of nowhere, the thought struck me: does 'encouragement' exclusively mean 'making someone happy'?

If so, then why do I get more encouragement out of one song born out of deep pain than out of an entire album that is so cheerful it causes a sugar coma? Why does one make me take a deep breath, wipe the tears from my eyes, and say, 'thank you,' while the other makes me writhe in near-physical pain from the confounded cheerfulness of it all?

Why am I encouraged by the things that acknowledge the brokenness and sadness?

Maybe because 'encouragement' is actually not so much about joy as it is about coming alongside someone -- walking with them, whether the journey is easy or not. Think of Sam coming alongside Frodo. It was dark, it was difficult, it was by no means happy. But Sam was an encouragement to Frodo because he was right there, literally beside him, sharing the experience of the darkness, even though he could easily have checked out and gone home. Maybe encouragement is about companionship and empathy, not fake smiles and fluffy words. Maybe encouragement is a lifestyle -- a commitment -- not something that gets switched on and off. (And I am almost certain that it's not dependent on whether you think the other person 'deserves' it or not.)

I've always said, since the very beginning of my career, that I wanted to do for others what my favourite artists have done for me. So that's my goal: one day, I want to be able to give the next wounded soul the same companionship and comfort -- the same encouragement -- that my favourite artists have given me.

31 January 2018

Mental Health and the Performing Arts

It's difficult as a performing artist to know what to say. How much can I talk about this? I feel relatively little stigma from my general friends and acquaintances (although I think a lot of that is because at least a few of the people I hang out with struggle with similar things), but in the professional performing arts world, how much can be said? Any health struggle, mental or physical, can preclude you from getting roles -- getting work. No director wants to hire someone who may be unreliable -- even if it's something out of the actor's control, like their health. How do you reconcile 'the show must go on' with 'I have a chronic condition'? In the performing arts world, you are supposed to be able to do absolutely anything at absolutely any time. 'I'm tired/I'm not feeling well' is not a valid excuse -- ever. We've all heard stories of dancers who have performed on severe sprains or actors who have done shows hours after huge personal tragedies.

I get that -- I do. Our literal job as performers is to become someone else, to create another world. The audience comes so they can forget about their own problems, not be saddled with mine. So then how do you know when to just escape into your character or into your practice routine and how do you know when to say, 'I can't do this today or I will relapse'? Maybe this isn't as much of an issue for some as it is for me... for me, my life is literally staked on being able to do this performing arts thing. My counsellor and I were talking about this at my last appointment. He asked me, "Pretend for a moment that you decided to the do the easy thing and get a 9-to-5 job. What does it look like? What would happen?"

I said, "I have two reactions to that... On one hand, I can't even picture not being in the arts. It just sort of feels inevitable. It always has, for as long as I can remember. But on the other hand, if I had to live that life, to do the same thing over and over, meetings and phone calls and reports... I would actually kill myself. It would be SO boring and pointless." And I actually found myself tearing up as I spoke. I couldn't really picture myself living that life -- but for the fleeting seconds that I did grasp a vague image of it, my heart plunged into a despair that terrified me and I got the words out and banished the image before I could descend any further. It felt like I had been standing on the very edge of a black hole and tripped. I've attempted suicide twice in my life and I have still never felt anything as black and breathless as that vague fleeting image of myself not in the arts.

I've said things to that effect on this blog for years and years -- how I could never do a 9-to-5. But now it's really beginning to sink in that my life literally depends on whether or not I can stay in the performing arts. Because I know that if I can't, I will literally die. And that puts a lot of stress on me when I try to practice (never mind perform) because I feel this immense pressure to improve even more, to become the best the fastest, just so I don't fade out and become disposable -- so I don't get replaced by the next starlet who doesn't have depression (and also can do a developpĂ© up to her ear and sing without sounding like a strangulation victim).

On one hand, you are asked to probe the depths of your pain and bare it on the stage, and on the other hand you are asked to shove it aside and pretend it doesn't exist. Is it any wonder so many artists break?

25 January 2018

Update - National Choreography Month

21 January 2018, 2.26pm.

So National Choreography Month 2018 has not quite gone as planned.

I was sick for the entire first week. As in, I literally do not remember the entire first week of 2018. I was so wiped out my mother had to hold up my head so I could eat. I didn't have the strength to do it myself. Then, right after that, I moved back to Saskatchewan for more school. I'm taking a full course load for the first time in over a calendar year and I had to remember what it's like to actually have to go to multiple classes in the same day and then also do homework for said classes. Plus I'm still trying to work as much as I can (so I can even afford school in the first place).

While I've managed to shoehorn in a dance/choreography session almost every day, I'm not getting as much film-worthy stuff as I had hoped. I had planned on posting film excerpts on social media every week or so. I haven't even filmed anything, much less posted anything. (I almost filmed what I worked on tonight, but I had a bit of a short fuse and I knew trying to film would just aggravate me.) My shortlist that I was SO excited about? I don't think I've finished even one piece on it. I've started/am working on a bunch of them, but I feel like I'm going nowhere on it because I haven't been able to actually finish any of them.

I had also hoped to enter the Nachmo Film Dance branch of the contest, but the thing is it has to be choreographed during the event (and so far I haven't choreographed anything), and it's due on 18 February.

08 January 2018

Remember... Remember... (2017)

This post is mostly for myself, so feel free to skip... I just thought I'd take a few minutes and note the changes that happened in 2017, the good things, the things that only a few short years ago I only thought about wistfully and the things that I never could have foreseen.

Overall, 2017 -- mostly just the past few months -- was a year of significant upheaval for me emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I'm still in the middle of it and I'm still processing a lot of it (it'll likely take years), but so far these are my observations.

- January: First posted an excerpt of one of my dance practices on social media. (This was actually supposed to be a one-off thing, but it set in motion almost literally every ounce of dance growth that would happen over the rest of the year.)

- January: Began a consistent dance practice schedule that would continue until the college Christmas break.

- March: My first comedic role (Person in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone).

- March: Choreographed for a stage production for the first time (The Drowsy Chaperone).

- April: Finally admitted to another person just how much I was struggling mentally/emotionally.

- April: Began counselling. (This in turn set off the long, long process of beginning to deal with my friend's death, my cousin's death, my extended family's issues, the emotional abuse throughout my childhood and teen years, the neglect and mistreatment from my former church, and the perfectionism -- both forced and self-imposed -- that almost literally killed me.)

- April: Performed literally the hardest, most complex tap dance I could ever have dreamed of in my worst nightmares... and performed it really quite well.

- April: Began my internship (as director's assistant).

- May: Told a few close friends about my depression.

- May (ish): Found my head voice. This opened up a whole other world for my voice.

- June: Performed a high G for the first time.

- June: After years of crap, finally left the church I'd attended for ten years and began attending a different one on the recommendation of a school acquaintance. So far I enjoy the new church. (At the very least it got me out of the old one.)

- July: Finished my 2016 NaNoWriMo novel draft.

- August: A few college friends got together and put together a book of encouragement for me.

- August: Moved into a legitimate house -- not dorm -- on my own (well, with roommates) for the first time.

- September: Submitted a statement to my former church about my reasons for leaving their church, including detailed stories of the way the leadership at this church mistreated me.

- September: Landed a job for during the school year.

- September (ish): Began making it a point to dress up a bit more. (Up till this time in my life I was dressing almost exclusively in jeans and t-shirts.)

- October: Learned/performed my first opera solo (Stizzoso, mio stizzoso from La Serva Padrona).

- November: Did a 30-Day Choreography Challenge, involving choreographing a minimum of 32 counts every day and posting the day's output on social media every day.

- November: For the first time in my life it occurred to me that I might actually be able to separate the depressed voice and my voice in my head... that they might actually be separate.

- December: Filmed, edited, and released my first dance video.

I won't say too much more because today was a rough day and if I throw a pity party here after this list that I made to look back on good things it would pretty much negate the purpose of making the list in the first place. But there it is. Things did happen... they're just not going as quickly and improvement is not as dramatic as I had been hoping.

28 December 2017

Rediscovering Choreography...

My official plan for National Choreography Month 2018 is more or less drawn up. I deliberately overplanned it, so I don't run out of songs halfway through the month like I did last November. I've also done a rough outline of choreography projects I want to accomplish over the next full calendar year. And I am SO excited for all of it. It's taking a lot of willpower to not start nibbling on the Nachmo list now.

So in order to satisfy the choreography bug while not starting on my January projects, I decided to revisit a ballet project that I have wanted to do for literally years. I had started it in early 2016, but then a(nother) series of discouraging/frustrating life events and then performance season happened... the latter altered my time-management habits just long enough to disrupt my choreography 'schedule' (such as it was), and the former sucked the last wisps of wind out of my proverbial sails and plunged me into a deep, soul-eating depressive episode that almost ended in suicide. From about April 2016 till this past November, I created almost literally nothing, nothing of substance.

Even during that indescribably dark time, I would occasionally think about this particular piece and think, I really should finish that. It's probably one of my best concepts ever, and I was always quite excited about it. But the fact that it probably is one of my best ideas also terrified me. Could I do justice to the concept? Would refining the abstract concept down to specific counts and movements ruin the big picture in my head? (The nature of the piece and the props I'm using for it are also notoriously difficult to notate.) Knowing that the finished piece would require seven dancers -- six on pointe -- to perform was also disheartening. After all, what was the point of creating this great piece if no-one would ever see it because there's no-one to perform it? But the fact that it was sitting there half-done finally bothered me enough that as of yesterday I've gone back to it.

I spent a day re-learning it -- figuring out how far I had gotten and going over what I've already done and notated. Again I'm reminded why I take SUCH detailed notes of my own choreography. I hear so many choreographers say they never write anything down, and honestly I think that's a huge mistake. Not only does your work not survive after you're gone, it's very possible that the work may be lost while you're still alive. Memory fails even before death becomes an issue. This piece would have been completely lost if I hadn't written it all down. Because it was so long ago, I remembered literally nothing except the abstract concept. Not one of the steps or sequences remained in my memory. I would have had to start completely from scratch and in a dance this emotionally (and practically) complex, you want as much of the work already done as possible and you really do not want to try to reconstruct the thing. You never think when you set a work aside for the day that you may not touch it again for nearly two years. Taking detailed notes allows for that possibility and is your safety net in case the possibility becomes a reality. (Also, having dated and detailed notes may be useful if there's ever a question of copyright at some point in the future...) But I digress.

I was surprised to find I had laid a darn good foundation. I've learned/absorbed a LOT about choreography and form in the past two years and half-expected this piece to look juvenile... but honestly I had set myself up really well. I had a handful of solid motifs for my pointe dancers and some pretty good character work done for everyone involved. Even the prop work didn't feel 'cheesy,' even though I hardly ever work with props and fully expected my lack of experience to be glaring. I choreographed the next thirty seconds of music in less than half an hour -- which is incredible for seven dancers, especially for someone who really hasn't choreographed ballet in two years.

As usual, I have no wrap-up for this post because the story's still being written, the dance is still being choreographed. But I am SO EXCITED for the choreography to come -- in this dance, in Nachmo 2018, and in the next year.

27 December 2017

New Video!

After years of dreaming and overplanning, I finally bit the bullet and created a dance video.

I'd actually tried to film this piece last year, but couldn't get the lighting right. I set it on the back burner for school, then work, then school again. At the end of November, my roommate and I had a conversation that inspired me to move ahead and film one of my other overplanned limbo projects. That one proved to be more complicated than I anticipated, plus there were about a thousand other people trying to rent the filming venue at the same time. So I set my sights on something shorter and simpler (and quicker to film). I wanted one video done by the end of 2017. A friend and I cobbled together as many lights as we could find and shot this in about forty-five minutes the Wednesday before Christmas break. I edited it in the week between my return home and Christmas.

Here it is: https://youtu.be/27qAVyz8B7k


16 December 2017

Choreography Ramblings

13 December 2017, 5.46pm.

That thirty-day choreography challenge has been SO good for me. I am in a MUCH better place mentally and emotionally right now, and I have momentum and motivation for at least one aspect of my creative life (my writing is still pretty dead in the water -- one of the reasons I haven't posted here much lately). I'm starting to tiptoe into the next phase of my choreographic dream... I don't want to get into too much detail until I'm in the final stages of this phase.

This is probably the phase of this whole dream that intimidates me the most. It's the phase where I have to start getting other people involved. For someone like me, who has spent her whole life trying to be independent, trying not to be a nuisance, trying not to need other people for even a few seconds, it goes completely against over a decade and a half of self-discipline even just to ask if my friends would be willing to help with this. I feel more vulnerable asking my friends for help than I do filming myself doing brand-new (raw and unedited) choreography on my phone and then posting it all over social media.

I've already been planning National Choreography Month in January. I am more excited for this thing this year than any other year I've done it. I blame the thirty-day challenge last month for that. Usually for Nachmo (that's what it's called...) I do something like, 'choreograph X number of dances this month.' This January I was going to modify that to 'thirty-two (or sixty-four) counts per day,' but having just done that this November, I want something a little more challenging than that. I haven't settled on exactly what that looks like yet, but I have a few viable ideas.

The other problem is I don't do a lot of solo choreography. Most of the music that inspires me is more suited for groups (or at least two or three people). I used up everything that inspired any kind of solo dance in November for the challenge. So now if I want to show off anything I choreograph, I'm going to need to find other dancers. This terrifies me, for the same reasons mentioned above -- I hate imposing on people, to the point where I will go without if it means I don't ask anything of anyone. People have such busy lives now that asking for a mere ten seconds of their time is often intimidating -- never mind days or weeks.

15 December 2017

Trust, Continued

As I mentioned around the end of last year, I was thinking a lot about trust.

It's a word my professors here use often -- 'trust yourself,' 'trust the process,' 'trust God,' 'trust your practice,' 'trust (teachers)' -- and I couldn't do any of it. Years of manipulation and emotional abuse had told me very clearly that nobody could be trusted. The decimation of everyone I ever cared about in 2015 led me to conclude that even God could not be trusted.

When you can trust nobody else -- not even God -- all you have left is yourself. This terrified me. I knew I would let myself down, but I had nothing else. So I trusted only myself, and if I screwed something up, I did what I had learned in childhood, the only way to maybe escape a tiny amount of the consequences of failure -- I beat myself up about it. (If you beat yourself up about it enough, sometimes the person you've disappointed/angered will be placated... Sometimes.) There was no forgiveness until there was improvement. Of course, this kind of pressure makes improvement almost impossible, but I knew no other way. To forgive myself for a mistake before I had seen improvement felt like accepting mediocrity. I have been overlooked and ignored and passed over my entire life because there is always someone better than me. Mediocrity is a death sentence. To accept it was unforgivable.

In the end, I could not really even trust myself, and I knew this. I kept letting myself down, but in the absence of any other viable options, I kept re-placing my trust in myself... knowing it was fruitless and I would end up frustrated. Trusting myself wasn't the ideal option, but it was the best option out of a very limited pool of choices.

This cycle wound me up so tightly that all I wanted was to make it stop. I wanted off the merry-go-round of constant failure. And the only way to stop failing is to stop trying...

I attempted suicide on 8 March. The knowledge that I could no longer trust myself took on another, very vivid, meaning.

By the end of the month, things had gone about as far as they could go. It was no longer a matter of if I was going to die, it was a matter of when. Something had to give. I could not trust myself, and I could no longer pretend that I could. I had to find someone.

At the beginning of April, I expanded my circle of trust to two -- myself, and a prof. I told him what was happening -- trusted this prof literally with my life. And then I trusted another teacher with the story. And then a counsellor. And then three friends. I could almost physically feel weight coming off my weary heart with every retelling of the story, every connection with someone who -- it turned out -- cared about me.

But trust isn't a switch that flips on and off. It's a habit. I had spent twenty years building a habit of not trusting anyone, of questioning everything anyone said (especially if it was nice) because they were likely to go back on it anyway, of figuring things out for myself because sooner or later those who said they'd help me would give up on me. There were moments now, acts of trust, but not a habit. I still didn't really believe any of these people who knew the story were in it for the long haul -- nobody ever was. I figured I might as well plan to keep carrying it myself, because eventually that was what was going to happen anyway. Twenty years of being used for sympathy had taught me that the phrase 'I'm here for you' has an expiry date.

I was trusting a select few now, but I was cautious. With my heart in such a fragile state, I could NOT afford to have my trust broken again -- it would mean almost certain death. They say to choose your friends well, but everyone looks good on the surface, How do you know who really will stick with you? Does any human even have that much patience?

Although the darkness I was in in March never really lifted to begin with, in September it made another violent assault, and at the end of October, its fury increased tenfold. I lived for weeks on the verge of complete (mental/physical) collapse. There were about five consecutive days where I would sit in the living room and wonder if I should call 9-1-1, if I would survive the next twenty minutes.

Trusting only in myself for so long means I can be very self-disciplined. Last school year I had begun to be particularly intentional about daily habits like dance and voice practice, eating healthy, and getting fresh air (most of these I was trying to do anyway, but last year I began to keep track of how much I was actually doing any of this). Upon returning to school in September, I returned to more or less that same routine -- practice voice, practice dance, walk to school and back, keep track of nutritional intake and make meal adjustments throughout the day as needed, at least attempt to go to bed earlier than 2am, doing all of these even when I really did not feel like any of it mattered to anybody.

After a while, I found myself thinking, 'if you do this (daily discipline mentioned above), you'll feel better.' At first a common retort was, 'no it doesn't. It never does.' But by the end of November I actually began to feel joy again -- for the first time in a long time. I distinctly remember bouncing around the kitchen one day, then suddenly asking, 'what am I so excited for?' I still don't know what I was excited for, but I decided not to question it. For the first time in literally years, I was happy.

And I realised that implementing all these little things, even when I didn't feel like it -- that was trust, on some level. That little voice saying 'you'll feel better' was onto something. I was trusting that maybe eventually it would result in something or mean something. It's fairly widely known that singing, dancing, fresh air, and good nutrition all improve mood from a scientific perspective... and over time, they actually do. They don't tell you that sometimes the effect is cumulative. I feel like that knowledge would help a lot of people, so here it is -- keep doing these things. Trust that the benefits come after consistent practice, not after one session.

Once that clicked in my head, suddenly a bad practice session was no longer cause for suicidal thoughts (I am not kidding -- a bad practice session would literally end with me writing a prototype suicide note. This was not an infrequent occurrence -- my attempt in March happened immediately after a frustrating dance practice). I was suddenly able to tell myself that one rough warmup did not mean my voice (or my body) was shot for the rest of the day -- and I was actually able to believe that.

Make no mistake -- everything is not perfect. I'm still reluctant to say it's even 'okay.' Trusting all that practice to actually result in improvement sometime down the line is still difficult, especially in singing. I still feel so far behind to begin with, and because I was in such a dark place for most of the semester, my singing suffered greatly. As a result, so did my performance. As a result, so did my self-confidence. As a result, so did my professors' trust in me to take on any responsibility at all onstage. I may never get another speaking role at this college (or possibly anywhere) because I showed very clearly this semester that I do not deserve one. And as much as it pains me to know this: that is absolutely fair. That whole downward spiral this semester makes singing so much harder now, with all those horrific performances in my very recent past and my instinct to beat myself up -- to only forgive when improvement is made -- still so strong. I'm trying to take solace in knowing that the concept of 'trusting' -- in the way my teachers/professors describe it -- makes more sense now.

I only hope it isn't too late to do anything with this understanding -- that I haven't managed to sink my career for good.

09 December 2017

Society, Silence, and Christian Expectations - A Brief Rant

Found in the Notes app in my phone. I still stand by this.

K. Rant time.

I am sick of society DEMANDING we keep silent about the things that bother, hurt, or frighten us. I am tired of people expecting everyone to always be happy and always be okay. I am tired of people misinterpreting others' pain/struggles as 'they're just looking for attention' or 'they're just whiny.'

I hate this unwritten code of silence. And it's at its absolute worst in the churches and 'Christian communities' of North America.

Christianity, by definition, follows a guy WHO WAS BETRAYED BY HIS FRIENDS AND EXECUTED BY THE GOVERNMENT, yet somehow Christians expect everyone's life to be trouble-free? To the point where if you DO struggle, you're blacklisted because it pokes holes in their theology?

That's not Christianity, people. That's Cloud Cuckoo Land.

27 November 2017

Life Update

Written 16 November 2017, 11.52pm.

It's November and I haven't posted a single thing about NaNoWriMo... for the very simple reason that for the first time since 2009, I'm not participating.

I wanted to -- I really did. But I had no story idea whatsoever. The last two years of the event were a huge struggle for me already... I felt so little connection to my 2015 novel that I often forget it exists, and in 2016 I failed to make 50k for the first time ever. On the back of those two years, I knew I would not be able to force a novel out of myself this year (though I have more free time to write now than I think I ever have).

I decided to do a self-imposed 30-day choreography challenge instead. I made a rule to choreograph no less than 32 counts (four sets of eight) per day and post the results on my Instagram page (for accountability). I'm not even halfway through the month and I'm seeing huge amounts of growth in my technique and creativity (I figured out nerve taps!), but the response of the public has been growing steadily less enthusiastic.

On a personal level, this was just the challenge I needed. I've been wanting to choreograph the 77s' Ping Pong Over The Abyss for forever, and I finally did it this month. I've also done some of Michael W. Smith's Christmas music, a sizeable chunk of Prodigal's I Don't Know Who You Are, and a duet that my sister requested. Currently I'm working on The Kimberlites' Gigajig and -- although it hasn't hit my social media yet -- the Piano Guys' Where Are You, Christmas? I've wanted to do this for a while as well, to encompass how broken Christmas feels with so many people missing. A lot of loss has surrounded me in the past while -- my own, certainly, but a lot of others around me have lost people close to them too. I've had two friends lose their fathers unexpectedly in less than two weeks. The growing, rushing waves of grief in the instrumental half of the song pretty accurately capture the yearning and fury that swirl around us who grieve; who have to put out one less table setting at Christmas dinner.

School is okay. I'm quite frustrated actually. This was supposed to be my penultimate year, the year when all the hours and hours of hard work (especially last year) would finally begin to pay off, to blossom. I had a few pretty lofty goals, and previously attaining difficult things has not been a big problem for me. I hoped to land a place in the elite-level choir, to get a larger role than last year in the massive Christmas musical, to maybe even get a singing part in the Remembrance Day and opera shows. The opera show remains to be seen (it's in February), but I didn't even get called back for the choir, and not only did I not get a larger role in the Christmas musical, I actually got a significantly smaller one. No lines, nothing. It's a half-step from no role at all. In my angrier moments I'm almost tempted to drop out and not even bother. I asked the director how to improve my acting in general (because I would assume that at least most of the people who actually got roles must be better at acting than me) and long story short, he literally told me to be more cheerful in my everyday life (this directive makes more sense in the context of multiple conversations we've had over the past year).

I was so desperate I actually tried it. It worked for a week, and the effect was dramatic. Both the director and my voice teacher commented on the difference in me. Even I was beginning to see a difference in myself.

But a week after that conversation with the director, at the end of my first week of actually trying, my dear friend attempted suicide. In one text, everything that was still going for me was undone. If she could kill herself, why couldn't I? What was to stop me finishing what I had started last March at the side of the highway?

I broke. There was no point to anything. I was going to die anyway and it's not like I would be missed... it wasn't like I had a role in anything. I gave up, and the director saw that immediately though he didn't yet know what had happened. Because of the nature of the whole thing I was not allowed to say anything about it to anyone -- including literally all the people in my support network who I would ordinarily go to immediately to keep myself from spiralling down again. Because I couldn't tell anyone, it all just kept rattling around in my head, growing quietly bigger in the dark silence that was imposed on me.
But I did say something, two weeks later -- I was so messed up by the whole thing that I was at the point of physical collapse. I'm a master secret-keeper (I was suicidal for twelve years before ANYBODY knew about it), but privacy rules or not, I could not, for my own safety, keep this inside. It was affecting me far too deeply. If I kept quiet, I was going to end up dead. My heart was literally starting to fail. So I brought one of my instructors into it. She brought the director into it. There were repercussions for me for telling either of them about it, but I was beyond caring. My own suicidal thoughts had strengthened and multiplied and I was caving very quickly in the onslaught. To say nothing kept me out of trouble and kept everyone happy. But to break the rule -- to say something, even to a very select few, kept me alive. Which was the more preferable option...?

But I can't help but think that now it's too late. Because of my dramatic improvement and equally-dramatic crash within the space of ten days, I succeeded only in proving myself as wildly inconsistent. And the inconsistent performers are the first ones cut from the list of potentials. I have five months left in the fourth year of my undergraduate degree. And it's very possible that I have destroyed my second chance at the only thing I ever wanted to be -- a performing artist.

I instituted the choreography challenge partly as a way to distract myself from my own desire to die and to get away from the sound and the press of everything crashing down around me. Since I'm not in any upcoming shows, I have no lines to learn or rehearsals to attend to keep me distracted so I had to manufacture my own distraction. And since apparently nothing's going to be handed to me on any kind of a platter -- never mind a silver one -- I have to manufacture my own fanbase somehow. It's on me now to create my own job experience, to develop my own craft on my own time, and drum up interest in my creative endeavours without any outside help or promotion. I'm not sure how it's working because, as I mentioned earlier, the enthusiasm on both my Instagram and Facebook accounts seems to be fading fast. Maybe they're all just 'hiding' my posts and not even looking at them at all...

But the process itself is keeping me distracted. And I have accomplished a fair bit. Maybe one day this will all be useful and one day all these long hours of thankless practice and all those tears (so many tears) will be worth something to someone.