A couple of months ago, at the career development office:
Counselor: So, what is your ideal job?
Me: Well... my IDEAL job is doing voice-overs for Disney movies and recording books on tape. ... I realize that that's not exactly included in my major. [english writing and communications] I do think I'm in the right major, but I also know that if the opportunity to perform ever presented itself, I sure as hell would jump at it.
Later that month, conversation with a friend:
me: I have so much to do... [more yammering about specific papers I had to write, tests to study for, whining etc.]
him: Why don't you pull an all-nighter?
me: I can't. No, really, I physically cannot. I always fall asleep.
him: Well, then why don't you skip choir rehearsal and get caught up?
him: Why not? You have almost perfect attendance; one absence isn't going to affect your A in the class.
me: No... no way am I missing HCC. I love it too much!
him: So... let me get this straight: you hate all your classes except HCC.
me: (pause) Yeah... I guess do...
Monday of finals week, on a walk with my mom:
me: "I think I need to change my major..."
Mom was a little freaked out, I think, but she suggested that I get more information. "Knowledge is power," she said. So, I made a whole slew of appointments with my choir director (also, conveniently, the advisor for the music department), my academic advisor, the career counselor (again), and an advisor from the theater department. What it boils down to is this:
I cannot live without performing. I am tired of putting costumes in dressing rooms for shows that don't include me, tired of cheering others on in their musical/theatrical pursuits and never even dreaming that I could follow suit. Aside from moments in front of the tabernacle, in Eucharistic adoration, and at Mass, the happiest moments of my life are during performances. Singing in church, dance recitals, high school musicals, half-time shows as a Bethette, choir concerts, it doesn't matter where or how I'm performing; I have loved every minute of my time on stage. And I want to do this for the rest of my life, professionally.
I know that pursuing a career in musical theater will be difficult. But I also know that I have what it takes to succeed. The more I look at this career path, the more I research and talk to people and imagine myself living that life, the more I feel that this is the path I was created to take. For the first time in my life, I want to throw myself into my studies because I want to make myself better. I desire to improve myself, to make something of myself, to really work for something! And for the first time, I truly believe that I can do it. This decision has given my life purpose and meaning like I've never dreamed of!
So, where does this leave me? What's my immediate plan of action? Well, I'm going to drop the communications degree and finish my writing degree, but I'm switching my concentration from "creative nonfiction" to "fiction." And I'll be adding on a degree in music. I'm only two classes away from my Italian minor, so I'll probably finish that up. Since I'm getting started on the music credits so late in the game (I'll be a junior in the fall!) I'll have to take summer classes next summer to fit in all my gen eds. Even still I have to talk to my advisor about squeezing the three-year music major program into two years. (I already tested out of an intro music class by totally acing the theory placement exam! :D Thank you, high school choir classes!) After graduation, I will hopefully be completing a 2-year conservatory program for musical theater so that I'll be ready to hit the stage as soon as I'm done with school. Boston Conservatory has a nice 2-year program, as do a variety of schools in New York City.
Why not study theater at Pitt, you ask? Well, I don't know how much you know about Pitt's theater department, but it's pretty much stuck in the basement of the Cathedral of Learning. That's just how much they care about us. The major description itself admits that it is preparation for further professional training, not immediate entry into the professional world. Besides, if I were to start on a theater major with music minor now, I would definitely have to take a fifth year, and I feel like time's a-wastin' as it is. I don't want to spend prime years of my life that I could be performing sitting in a classroom, ya know? Better to focus on music now and then on acting, I think. Plus that way, even if acting falls through, I'll still be a well-trained musician (and writer).
Meanwhile, I'll be auditioning for shows in Pittsburgh. There are definitely a couple of places where I could get paid, and others where I could not, but the important thing is to start building my acting resume and gain auditioning experience. Ideally, I'll be able to get an Equity card somewhere and start working for real. Next summer I hope to get a job in some amusement park's performing troupe, in which case I'll be taking my gen ed classes online. Or maybe I'll go back to Disneyland and audition to be a Disney princess. ;)
So, that's my story. The timing has been a little crazy as far as interfering with finals week and some personal issues, too, but ultimately, it's been the most exciting decision of my life. And I'm happy about it. I look forward to the future with such hope, such joy. I feel like I can do anything, be anything that I want. And it feels great. :)