I loved college. I really, really, I loved it. Getting to spend so many years around like-minded individuals, studying the things I love with other professionals was one of the best things I ever did with my life, and I'm grateful I went.
That being said, if there's one problem with college (or any long-term education) it's that after spending so long around the same people, studying the same thing, you get to see yourself and your craft in very pigeon-holed ways.
Why do I bring this up? Because ever since moving to the city, the way I've viewed myself and my arts has changed. In some ways I'm a completely different man (although my wife would argue I'm just more like myself. I'd believe her.)
1. Back when I was in college, I was the quiet guy. If you watch anime, I was the Japanese lady's man who'd been placed in the wrong country. I made a good show with first impressions, but when it came to my classes I always seemed to be the quiet, serious one in the group, and no matter what I did otherwise, that was the place I and everyone else kept putting me back.
Yeah, guess how long that lasted after graduation? Now I'm joking in line, I'm meeting new people on the street, and often I'm the first one to start any kind of conversation among the actors in the audition room. I swear, sometimes I see a look in the other actor's eyes that says “Thank you for talking with me, I was going crazy worrying about my audition and I needed someone to talk to.” I've already made friends in acting I can't wait to work with, and I may just have to write my own show sometime just to make sure we do.
I really am a personable guy. Why didn't I ever realize that in college?
2. I know more about relationships than anyone else I know. I really mean that. As some of you may know, I'm going to be working with www.mymatchmaker.com after they launch as one of their first, core group of matchmakers. I applied for this job because I've always been good reading people and helping them work through relationship problems, so I thought it would be a good fit. While I was in the middle of the interview, however, I realized it wasn't just a good fit, it was a GREAT fit. As we talked more about what a matchmaker needs to be and how they do what they do, the more I realized how easily all those things come to me. I guess we'll have to wait until the site launches before we can really see how it goes, but I'm really excited to see how this goes. Even if the site were to implode before we could ever get started, I think I'd still pursue a career as a matchmaker. Frankly, I can't see why more people don't employ them already.
3.I really, really, REALLY love dancing. Back in Utah I liked to dance, of course, but for some reason I always went away from ballroom class feeling a little empty, like it should have been more fun than it actually proved to be and I didn't know why it wasn't. Likewise, I never really could get my technique as perfect as I wanted. I was good, don't get me wrong, but there was always a certain something holding me back from being really great that I couldn't fix in Utah.
Ever since getting to the city, however, I've been dancing like crazy and loving every minute of it. I'm going to parties, I'm teaching, and my technique is improving in ways it never did back in class. I'm not perfect yet by any means, but as I sit down and think through my professional and personal goals, I've realized teaching ballroom the rest of my like going professional as a dancer are not only on the list now, but are very attainable goals. I'm sure it will take a few more years before I can really consider winning competitions (the other dancers out here are amazing) but the thing is, that idea had never really entered into my head before. Teaching, performing, competing were always nice things, but now they not only seem like a career I could enjoy the rest of my life, but something I think I could get really, really good at with a little more training and practice.
4. I'm a good actor. That's not a new thing, of course; I've always known I'm a good actor, and I've have a resume of leads and supportings to back that up. That being said, whenever you tell a Westerner you're moving to New York, they always think you're crazy. It's too hard, the competition's too stiff, and you'll never make it, and you'll have to go home in shame, they say. And, just knowing New York is the world center for theater makes you scared, that you'll go and discover you don't measure up to the standard.
Since getting here, however, I've done much better than I'd thought. The other actors here are still as good as I'd thought they would be, but as I go to auditions and things I realize I'm holding my own among them, which is the best thing an actor can ask for. And, since leaving college, I'm no longer pigeon-holed into certain types like what happens to all of us in school. My abilities have been expanding here just from getting among a new crew, and I've become much more the “leading man” type than I thought I was before. As an actor who wants to expand his abilities, I'm really, really glad I came.
I think the point I'm trying to make is that college was a great experience that I wouldn't trade for the world, but it's actually been the decision to leave that familiar place that's let me grow as a performer and more into the man I want to be. It's been hell being away from Rachel and the kids this long, but I still rank this decision as one of the best I ever made, and even if I never make any money and have to move back to Utah next month, I'll still be glad I did it.
Thanks you all, and I'll see lots of you at World Con!