I must have been in a good mood.
A weirdly optimistic missive I wrote in October 2012, after months of searching for work, amid several failed interviews…and right before that one random late-night response to a Craigslist gig that now keeps me in stockings and gin in a quiet flat in Queens.
During my college years, I kept pretty much to myself. The institution as a whole intimidated me; I viewed college as something to get through rather than something to help me build skills and networks, especially since I changed majors (from music to nothing for a while to finally English literature). I focused on my classes and projects without looking up from my books very often to see the world outside. But my grades weren’t fabulous; I guess because I didn’t really know why I was there. University clubs and Greek life surrounded me; so many classmates were doing interesting things outside of their schoolwork in seemingly impenetrable groups. I never knew how to pierce that bubble, and I didn’t really want to. I wanted to make friends, but didn’t know how. Still I have trouble with that.
I did find something outside of school, however, and as soon as I discovered it, it ruled me. As my time at the university came to an end, I did better in my classes, grade-wise, but I couldn’t wait to unload the burden that was scholastic responsibility and live life as a dancer.
I became obsessed with dance in my small college town. There wasn’t a university club yet, but a community of dancers who met every weekend during the nights to dance together. It was small, and I was one of the youngest there, but I didn’t care. It was a way to express myself without words, and I sorely needed something to balance my dull school life.
It wasn’t until someone asked me to teach with them full-time in New York that I really understood what I wanted to do without anyone else’s agenda pushing me—I wanted to be in New York, where there is an abundance of creativity and just the right level of anonymity for everyone to feel comfortable being themselves. I went to New York to teach this dance, but really, it was a way to get to the beginning of my life.
I don’t regret how it all happened, but I do wish I had put some things into place before leaving undergrad. Such as relationships with teachers whom I respected and with which I jived. I was too shy to ask about writing programs or how to better my skills—what’s worse, I didn’t know to ask these questions period. But that’s what professors and instructors are for, I realize now, whether they agree with that statement or not. It is so important to inquire of your teachers their opinions, career paths, and how they received their educations, as well as anything else you need to understand what it takes to find your own way.
The great thing is, this questioning doesn’t stop at college. Through doing what I love creatively, I have developed a vast social network, thanks to my passion for dance, which attracts various people from all walks of life. This includes, but is not limited to: consultants, managers, doctors, teachers, students, musicians, etc. As I’ve said, my shyness can be a hindrance and paint me as incurious, but networking doesn’t have to be a soulless, self-serving venture: just merely talking to friends or friends of friends may help you find more information about your fields of interest.
There’s no proven method for getting on your way in life; so you may as well employ the whole toolbag, starting with the people you know. This requires talking about yourself while at the same time asking questions of others, not an easy task for me. But, from what I’ve experienced, people want to help each other, and there’s nothing wrong with surveying your social network and seeing what happens, because, as my mother loves to say, “you never know.”