When I was young, I watched Sesame Street in awe. Unlike Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and The Friendly Giant, this television show had kids on it. This whole mess of kids was lucky enough to actually live on Sesame Street and so got to be on TV every single day! I was so envious that I didn’t live on a street that was filmed for the rest of the world to see. They didn’t do that kind of thing in Orem, Utah.
When I was 12 I saw a production of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute at BYU. I wasn’t that much into opera, but the show has three little boys in it. One of the boys was played by a girl. And they were all about my age. Here I was, in Provo, Utah, and there were kids performing on stage. I had no idea you could do that if you didn’t live on Sesame Street or at least at Box 350, Boston, Mass., 02134 — where all the ZOOM kids lived.
That’s all it took. I was stage struck. If kids in Utah could be in plays and movies, then that’s all I needed to know. I didn’t have to convince my parents to move across country, I could do it at home.
All on my own, I started listening to people and watching things and reading the classifieds. I knew that someone had to know about these things. (My mother was so averse to being a “stage mother” (for good reason) that she was almost discouraging of my newfound desire to seek fame and fortune.) Eventually I figured out that local performance auditions were usually posted in the newspaper, so I scoured every issue and begged and pleaded for my parents to drive me to auditions and tried to convince them that it was a cheap alternative to staking out a new life on one of the coasts.
I performed many times in community and public school theater. Then I went to college and majored in music dance theater. It was amazing and wonderful and challenging and competitive and hard and embarrassing and discouraging and fun. I knew I was bound for Broadway!
As time went on, things changed. The music dance theater BFA was new and the program seemed to be revised every semester. The fencing class that had been required, no longer counted toward the degree. The freshman seminar became the sophomore seminar. I didn’t think I would every graduate.
When I married a graduate student and started to think not just about my future, but the future of an entire family I had new considerations.
- What would I do with a baby in the city?
- Did I want to raise a family in a tiny apartment?
- Would I really hire some nanny or day care worker to take care of my children all day?
- Could I cut it there?
- What plays would a Mormon girl really be comfortable performing in?
- If I wouldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain, drop f-bombs, undress, or act out sexually, what did I think I was going to do? Did I think I can walk in to auditions with my list of rules?
- Did I think a nobody could pick and choose her roles?
The more I thought, the more Broadway seemed like a terrible fit for me, for my family, for the life I really wanted. Finally I decided to change my major so that I could, eventually, leave college with a degree intact and with a remotely marketable skill in a place I’d actually like to live long-term.
With special permission and mentors in three different departments, I was able to combine my business interest with my theater passion. I created a degree called Theater Management in the Humanities Department’s University Studies program. It consisted of about 50 percent business classes (accounting emphasis), 25 percent music (vocal performance emphasis), and 25 percent theater.
During my last two semesters in college, I became pregnant with our first daughter. Within a few months, I had the baby, graduated from college (in that order), and decided to be a stay-at-home mom. Within a few more months, I discovered that I loved computers and programming. And within a few months more, I had my first home business doing desktop publishing.
Goals change. And that’s OK. Finding what you really want and adjusting the finish line when what you really want changes, is part of the path to finding your dream life.