Let’s be real. Much like dating another person, dating yourself isn’t always rainbows and sunshine. It can be challenging to sneak in a few hours to disconnect from your Instagram feed, Netflix account, and the people that you share your life with. Also, let’s not forget to consider the fact that it’s probably been a hot minute since you looked at your schedule and got butterflies thinking about going on a date with yourself.
As part of this series, I am making it a priority to go on at least one date night with myself a month. I challenge you to do the same!
Are you still reading? I know, that last part was a little ridiculous. I mean, who walks into a restaurant asking for a table for one? Hey, turns out, it’s not as unusual as you might think. Also great for parties of one --- hoping on a carousel, checking out a burlesque show, mini golfing. No one will ever believe you that you actually got two holes in one, but still, go for it! Go do the things that you have been waiting for someone else to take you to do. And have fun doing it. Fall in love with you.
This past month, I went on an extraordinary date with myself. I went to a Broadway show! That’s right, ladies and gents, solo date with me and me to the best theatre in the world.
As the house lights go down and the hum of 1,000 people chatting succinctly dissipates, the orchestra begins to play and I always get overwhelmed with emotion.
Over the course of two hours, dreams are coming true — be it for an actor, an oboist, or the little girl who traveled all the way from Port Orange, Florida and is experiencing the magic of theatre for the first time. Let me say that again, by being a part of the best theatre in the world, a dream is coming true. How often, in life, do we get to witness a dream coming true?
On this date night with myself, as I sat in row J with great anticipation, awaiting the dim of the house lights, I began to think about the story of my own childhood dreams.
All of the major decisions I made in my life as a young person, were centered upon getting into a great theatre program in college. I was in the gifted program in Middle School, which would lead to the International Baccalaureate program in High School, which I hoped would lead to Northwestern, NYU, or even Yale. Good grades, work hard, star on Broadway. Those were my plans when I was 10.
One afternoon when I was about 13, I lay on my bed, lost in my favorite past time, even back then: the Broadway musical.
I’m not certain of which particular musical I was belting out that afternoon, but a favorite at the time was Rent. So, we’ll say I was singing “La Vie Boheme.”
“To faggots, lezzies, dykes, cross-dressers tooooo...may he among us without sin, be the first to condemn. La Vieeeeeee Boooooheme.”
For all I can remember, I could have been belting out “Evita”. Who’s to say, it was a long time ago. But you catch my drift.
“Shut up. You can’t sing.” My brother yelled from across the hall, as he slammed his door.
I stopped singing.
I closed my door.
And that was it.
I believed him. I thought, “He’s my best friend. He’s my family. Who else could I count on to tell me if I couldn’t sing?”
So, “I can’t sing. I’m not good enough” became part of my narrative. I auditioned for musicals in high school, but always went into the audition thinking I wasn’t good enough. I only got cast in one show in four years. I was an old maid, in Jane Eyre. My one, big line in a terribly attempted Irish accent was, “We can’t take in a vagrant to lodge.”
Ironically enough, before that heart-shattering event, I was cast in multiple musicals. After that day, I was never cast in a musical ever again.
When the time came to audition for college, I only chose to apply to studio acting programs because I knew I wasn’t good enough to be accepted into a musical theatre program.
Eventually I moved to New York City to study at an acting conservatory. When I got there, I wanted so badly to be in the musical theatre department, I even thought about auditioning for it, but knew I would be crushed when they told me I didn’t get in.
Sitting in the theatre that night, I realized that this story was the product of a grumpy teenage boy being a jerk to his younger sister. Something that had happened a hundred times over the course of my youth, but my fragile heart and my lack of confidence, took it as truth. A story that I have carried with me for 20 years. Twenty. Years.
The orchestra began to play and the tears came down. I wept for my younger self. I wept for the child who was going to be realizing their dream that night. And I wept for the incredible opportunity to be able to experience someone who hadn’t believed an untrue story. The actor who held strong onto the dream of standing before an audience, on Broadway, and sharing their incredible voice.
As I walked home from the theatre that night, I began to wonder what other stories I’m telling myself that are just holding me back from what it is that I really want and deserve? Who have I given power to that never deserved it in the first place?
Maybe I can’t sing...or perhaps, I have the voice of Idina Menzel sitting deep within my diaphragm just waiting to be unleashed (...to Defy Gravity?). Who knows? But it’s never too late to find out.