When I first entered college as an undergrad, I chose to major in Theater. It wasn’t a hard choice. I had been taking acting classes for a few years and it was all I wanted to do. I loved theater. I loved learning my lines. I loved working with passionate, creative people. Being on stage gave me a voice, and getting into character meant that I could take a break from being me. It meant that I could get a glimpse into what it might be like to be someone else. Nothing was more magical to me than acting.
My freshman year, I got to experience some really cool things. I got to learn about acting, arts management, sets, costumes, stage lighting, Stanislavski, musical theater, and much more. I got to see myself grow through my different scenes and assignments. I got to meet people who were all unique, but who were all united by their common love of the theater.
I also got to watch my peers act, sing and dance in several performances. Seeing people live their passion is one of my favorite things in the world, so being surrounded by creative people brought me a lot of joy.
While I experienced a lot of good things my freshman year, I wasn’t always happy. I spent a lot of time feeling sad, anxious and isolated. I broke down crying on more than one occasion. I knew I needed a change in my life, I just didn’t know what kind. My freshman year was followed by a terrible summer that only made my sadness and anxiety worse. I was in a really low place, and I knew that a hectic theater schedule wasn’t going to help me get out of it. I needed to find some peace and solitude.
I’ve never been the kind of person who only had one passion. I loved acting, but I also loved writing, so I decided to change my major to English. This wasn’t an easy decision, and no one I talked to thought I should do it. This isn’t surprising. People don’t like change, and even if the change you want to make is good for you, you’ll find that people won’t want to accept it. (You’ll understand what I mean by this if you’ve ever told your friends you’ve chosen to eat healthier. There will always be that one person who says, “Just have one cookie. It won’t hurt you!”)
Once I changed my major, things got better slowly, but not overnight. I missed acting and I was always worried about the future. Still, my friends said they noticed that I was less stressed than I was before. I was starting over, and starting over is never easy. Luckily for me, English majors are some of the loveliest humans you will ever encounter, so I got to meet some really kind people.
I began to focus more on writing. For so long, I had been used to putting a lot of my creative energy into acting. Now that I wasn’t taking acting classes anymore, there was this huge, ginormous void in my life. So, I filled it. In my need to create, I went from being a terrible fiction writer to a decent one. I wrote hundreds of poems. I wrote plays and scripts. I learned how to write songs with my guitar. Occasionally I got to perform my songs, or read my poems and stories aloud at events. I found ways to continue to create and connect with others, all while maintaining the level of solitude I needed to find peace.
Experiencing two different majors really added to my college experience. I got to submerse myself in two different crafts. Writing and acting are very different, but they also have things in common. Both require you to use sense memory and to see things from another character’s perspective. I believe that acting helped me to be a better writer.
I learned a lot from all of this. I learned that there doesn’t have to be just one passion that will bring me happiness in life. It is important to choose something and commit to it, but it is also important to stay open to new things and new experiences. I thought that choosing a major meant doing one thing for the rest of my life. I realize now that this simply is not true. As C.S Lewis says, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
I have a lot of different passions, especially when it comes to the arts. I realize now that this is not a bad thing. I got to see myself grow as an actress and as a writer. Making a change is not always easy. I made a change because I wanted to be my best, healthiest self. Sometimes you need a break, even from something you love to do. And that’s okay.