This is a story about fear.
I’m very familiar with fear, it having run my life with varying degrees of strength for years now. I had always been adaptable. I moved around a lot through my middle school years, and I quickly adjusted to always being the new kid by being friendly and outgoing. When I had no ride to the first job I’d ever had, I squared my shoulders and walked the hour it took to get there, rain or shine.
When I felt stale living in my home state of Michigan, I moved to Virginia for a change of pace within three months. I had always been adaptable when it came to life and its strictures, but when it came to my dreams; I was firmly rooted in my comfort zone. Acting had always been my love. I was obsessed with the idea of becoming someone else, with telling a story, illustrating a point, illuminating a struggle. Acting was more than just saying lines. It was a living, breathing revolution. It moved you, it brought you to tears, it infuriated you, and it made you deliriously happy.
You came away enlightened. You came away knowing something. I adored it. Before I discovered screenplays, I used to read books aloud in my room and attempt to convey the emotions the author wrote. I did high school plays and then Community Theater, from which my love for the stage blossomed. There is an abruptness to stage theater, a right-now quality that seems absent in film and TV. The audience is right there, and you must get them to hate you, love you, pity you, or laugh at you in moments. It’s such a rush, and I adored it. Of course, I had dreams of acting professionally.
Even when young and caught up in discovering what I wanted to do when I grew up, I mashed it down with “reality”: that I’d be just another kid trying to make it in an industry that is next to impossible to break into, and even harder to make a living at. I told myself that I didn’t actually have what it took, that I’d be better off pursuing something more feasible, something guaranteed to keep a roof over my head.
My love continued, but with an undertone of responsibility looming. I graduated high school, and made plans to attend college, but never went. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle the coursework, that I’d fail out and disappoint myself and my family. Most of all, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to really enjoy any major I’d choose instead of Theatre. I got two jobs, moved out of my parents’ house and settled into a life of routine, of feeling unfulfilled. This was when a change began to be wrought. I was dissatisfied with what I had achieved so far. I wanted more. I wished to be a part of something bigger than me, I wished to feel accepted and feel pride in what I did.
These wishes were all related to acting, but my ever-present fear of failure pushed me in a different direction to grant them. I was 22 when I enlisted in the United States Navy. When I think back, I definitely joined for the wrong reasons, but I am eternally grateful that I did. There is a strength and self-confidence that you obtain when you emerge from boot camp, a brotherhood and support system that you gain as you serve, an enlightenment that is granted as you travel to different countries, and a deep pride and love for what you defend that is placed in your very bones.
Armed with these, I realized that although this was one of the best decisions I ever made, it was time to move to the chapter I had always been looking toward, but afraid to read. It was time to stop being an aspiring actor and become one. I was honorably discharged from the Navy, and wasted no time moving to New York City not even a week later.
I had my sights set on attending a university that would allow me to discover even more about myself, that would align with my core ideals of strength, brotherhood, the desire to learn, and a pride in what you do. Fordham University embodies that for me. With a reputation widely known, an intimate and amazing theatre program, and having observed two alumni who are close to me go on and conquer the world as they chose, I knew that this university must be the place where my journey to theatre continues.
I only hope that my story helps to better understand me and what I want to accomplish. I am done with fear. I am armed with self-assuredness. I am ready to grow. And now, having been accepted for Spring ’18, I am ready for Fordham.