Well, friends, here we are. The final blog post of 2020! I feel like this is the day we have all been waiting for, to finally put 2020 to rest. Since this is usually the post where I recap every month, I thought what better way than to close out 2020 by recapping the year!
I started Beyond the Footlights in May, and while I’ve written pretty extensively about my life and experiences from about March on, there were some quote-on-quote normal times before Covid-19 erupted to share, as well as some more minute details from throughout the year that I’d love to reflect on and share with you, too. Honestly, I’ve kind of been putting off writing this post because it IS a lot to unpack. In our own ways, we have all been through some form of trauma this year. By no means do I use the word trauma lightly. I don’t think that you could meet a single individual at this very moment who hasn’t experienced any kind of loss due to this pandemic. I will admit, I’ve pushed down many thoughts and feelings that I’ve carried with me this year just to get through, so unpacking it all definitely scares me. But we can do hard things, and I want to take this time to reflect on all the growth I’ve experienced because of it all.
2020 scared me. Without even having any knowledge of how the year would play out, it scared me. It was the year I’d graduate college and take the “real world” by storm. I had no idea where I’d find myself after August, I was entering an industry that excited me and terrified me, and I had no idea if I would sink or swim. I knew I’d take on new financial burdens, and money scared me (money still kind of scares me, but that’s beside the point). I thought I would leave home and move somewhere I had never lived. I was entering the New Year as a single lady for the first time in a long time, and I was equally excited and scared to find myself in 2020. Last December, I wrote a little something for myself to look back on. Here is one little part of what I wrote:
“This needs to be the year of self-care, self-love, and self-security. It is time to stop depending on men to remind us of our worth. It is time to start remembering for ourselves what we bring to this Earth, because it is the reason we were put here. It is time to start having more confidence in ourselves and our abilities, because without that self-assurance and a better mindset, we will crumble. It is time to stop hiding how we feel from people and to start seeking help when and where we need it. It is time to stop worrying about what other people think of us, and time to stop comparing ourselves to others. It is really time to stop comparing ourselves to others. It is time to keep doing what we love, find new passions, and pursue our dreams. By me. For me. Full steam ahead.”
If only you knew, sister.
Oh, how young and naïve we were! It’s honestly crazy to me to think of how different my life is now than it was a year ago. I was still in school, at home for Christmas break, prepping, prepping, prepping for auditions. January was the busiest time of the year for auditions at school, and we always auditioned for the Shakespeare Festival the day before classes started back up for the second semester. I spent most of my time rehearsing my materials for that as well as The Sound of Music, which we would be auditioning for at the end of the month (I spent A LOT of time trying to learn how to play Do Re Mi on the guitar…). I was also cramming to learn lines for Tartuffe, which I would start rehearsals for as an understudy once we got back to school. Showcase prep was also in full swing, as we would start putting it all together once we got back. I spent lots of time putting together my reel and actor website, getting everything just right. Back at school, my class started putting together our own children’s show!
February 1st was actually the last time I went ~out~ out to a bar with friends (LOL). My friends and I were just having an absolute blast in our last semester. My class schedule was pretty light, I had a lot of theatre related work, but for the most part, the hard part of college was over. My class continued to work our butt’s off building our children’s show. It was also the first Valentine’s Day that all of my close girl friends and I were single all at the same time! We made tacos and chocolate covered strawberries, drank wine, and enjoyed each other’s company.
March was arguably the worst month of 2020, for obvious reasons. It didn’t start that way, though. At this point, I had found out that I would be playing Maria in The Sound of Music, which was obviously a dream way to end my college career. March was also when our senior showcase would be going to New York, so we were in the throes of finalizing every aspect of that. I went on spring break but had to come back from the break early to tech our children’s show which would open the following week.
Then the world stopped.
All of my senior class on campus had to quarantine, either in the campus housing or in off campus housing where many of us lived. That week brought so much disappointment and sadness. We were able to finish tech for our show and record a final run to be distributed, but all the hard work and dedication would never be experienced by a live audience. We all just sat together, prayed, talked, cried, and tried to enjoy the time we had. I sat in the lobby of the theatre building crying as we learned we would not be able to take our showcase to New York the following week. And a few days later, I sat in my bed and sobbed when I got the news that The Sound of Music had been cancelled too. It was a week of tremendous loss. On top of it all, we were faced with the uncertainty of the rest of our college careers. Classes moved online, and my mom came to start moving things out of my apartment little by little to head back home. It was just jarring. I was planning on living in my apartment until at least May, and now I was being ushered out, back home with my parents, two months early. The freedom and the college life that I had lived was suddenly stifled, and there was nothing I could do but roll with the punches. We continued classes online; fortunately, I only had two real classes that met weekly.
I attempted to learn how to ride a bike. That was short lived.
I threw myself into other outlets as best I could, to keep my mind and body busy. I found out that I love dance cardio! I did a lot of bullet journaling, reading, and squirrel watching in our backyard. Of course, as time went on, the days that events and things were supposed to happen on came and went, which made dealing with the circumstances of the world a little harder. On what would’ve been opening night of The Sound of Music, I spent most of the day in tears, snacking and drinking wine with my mom. I was able to watch a workshop that my college held hosted by Laura Benanti, which was really special for everyone involved.
April was the month where I really started working on creating Beyond the Footlights. I had briefly thought about starting a blog before, but I could never realistically figure out how I would make it happen because my life was so busy with school and theatre. Well, having time was no longer an issue, since I would have as much time as I needed for the foreseeable future. I also had major doubts about my abilities and whether or not anyone would even care to follow along on that journey with me. But I went out on a limb, and started gathering ideas, figuring out logistics, and setting it all up. Aside from simply surviving this bitch of a year, I would consider starting the blog one of my biggest achievements of 2020.
At the beginning of the month, my family and I completely moved me out of my apartment. I had been back at home since March, but all of my furniture and some of my belongings were still at the apartment. It was a really bittersweet day; I loved that apartment, as much of a shit hole as it was. I was in a virtual reading of 12 Angry (Wo)Men (directed by Gabe Moses), which was so awesome.
On May 18th, I launched Beyond the Footlights and the rest is history! It was one of my happiest, proudest moments of the year. I didn’t just say I was going to do it, I did it, and it was really exciting.
I saw my best friend, Kailey, for the first time in person since we had left school in March to take our graduation photos at our college. It was also the first time I had set foot back on campus since we had left, which was very surreal. I handled it much better than I had anticipated, probably because I had her with my and our moms. May 16th, we graduated virtually, and I spent the day at home with my parents, my brother, and my grandparents. I won’t lie, I spent the day feeling really angry. I just kept saying it all wasn’t fair and it shouldn’t be like this. I FaceTimed Kailey throughout the entire ceremony; not being able to share this victory with my classmates and friends was incredibly hard.
News of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement caused me to do some serious self-reflection, a journey and process that continues to this very moment in time. It was time I started listening, looking within, learning, and taking necessary steps to become a better ally. The work is NOWHERE near finished, and I strive to take each and every one of those steps into my daily life.
In June, I took another plunge and started my 200-hour yoga teacher training! I had been going back and forth for about a month after I found my studio online, and I’m really glad that I decided to begin my training. At the time, I wasn’t back to working yet and school was done, so I didn’t really have a lot of structure to my days. You’d think having free time to do whatever I wanted would be great, but I very much like having a schedule and deadlines. I loved that I was able to work on my training whenever I wanted, but I did my best to set a schedule for myself which helped me a). get the training done and b). feel like I had a purpose, something to work for again.
I went back to working my retail job in July, which was definitely an adjustment, but it was also kind of nice to get out of the house again and have things to do. I got to take part in a virtual performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona with the group of fellow actors and friends I would have worked with at the Shakespeare Festival. It was an absolute BLAST, and it was so nice to flex those actor muscles again.
August was a great month. August marked a year since I made the promise to myself to not get into a serious relationship, and that was a huge marker for me. I was fortunate enough to be part of the 2020 cohort for the 24-Hour Plays: Nationals! I spent a week participating in virtual workshops with my fellow cohort members, and at the end of the week we were all cast in one short play and had about 8 hours to rehearse and put it on its feet for a virtual audience! It was equal parts exhausting, nerve-wracking, and exhilarating. The shutdown set me into this spiral (that I honestly still struggle with sometimes) of thinking and feeling like I should have chosen another career path, but the whole 24-Hour experience kind of reaffirmed for me that I was meant to pursue theatre. I also landed a job working as a marketing assistant for a blogging business! I applied completely on a whim since I had no real experience aside from my own blogging efforts, but I figured what did I have to lose? Having another little stream of income and gaining experience has been really great!
September was when work kind of started to really pick up. I was working my retail job, doing project work for the marketing position, and I started tutoring my cousin doing online school as well. I would stay with my aunt near where I went to school two days a week, which was really great because it was the perfect meeting place for my friends and I. Being able to see them for a dinner or a coffee here and there was especially awesome after many months of solitude (lol). After many months of study, I officially completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training!
My birthday month! A big month. First and foremost, I went on a date for the first time (a ~real~ date, anyway) in over a year. Nothing ended up coming out of the experience, but it was definitely a step out of my comfort zone. I can now confirm that I still may not be ready for a serious relationship for a little while longer, but I’m grateful for the experience nonetheless! One of my best friends, Bella, also has a birthday in October, so a few of my friends and I got together to have a night in and celebrate our birthdays. Kailey, my mom and I also went to an outdoor winery (all wineries are outdoors, but obviously we spent the day outside because, you know, Covid) and we had a sleepover which was really fun and special!
Nothing too exciting happened in November! I took up embroidery, a little late for a quarantine hobby, but I really enjoyed it! I worked a lot and continued to tutor. I also took part in a 14-day Get Up and Dance challenge that was hosted by Dance From Home, a fitness business that I found on Instagram! I’ve tried a lot of challenge type things like this before, but more often than not, I don’t follow through with them. I think the fact that this one was rather short AND dance/strength based was what really helped me through. I had the best time, and honestly really looked forward to taking the dance cardio classes and getting my body moving. I’ve kind of kept up with dancing during the pandemic, taking classes and teaching classes at my dance studio at home, but this really reignited my love for dance and moving my body.
I spent Thanksgiving at home with my immediate family, which was nothing out of the ordinary since that’s how we celebrate every year. I made a beautiful pie and felt very domestic. I also hosted my first giveaway on my Instagram featuring four female owned small businesses! I had a really great turnout with a lot more people than I had anticipated, so it was really exciting!
And here we are, December! I’m still working quite a lot, I’m done tutoring now, but I recently got hired to be a substitute teacher! I will admit, I’m having a hard time feeling the Christmas spirit right now. I love Christmas, but it all looks so different this year that it kind of makes me sad. In the last week or so, I’ve been feeling very anxious. Sometimes my feelings of anxiety come in waves. As the year is coming to a close, I’ve found myself measuring my worth by the work I am doing, or not doing, really. I’ve been so busy working the several jobs I have, none of which are what I went to school for or am exceptionally passionate about, but unfortunately my chosen industry isn’t where it once was. I’m still coping with the fact that I’m not finishing the year where I thought I would. I often get very anxious with the fear of getting “stuck” where I’m at right now, mentally and circumstantially, and get stuck comparing myself to others. No matter how “together” I or my life may seem, it is all VERY much a work in progress day to day. I guess I can’t really compare where I’ve ended up in 2020 to where I thought I would end up or the goals I HAD set for myself a year ago, because life really came in and just completely rocked my boat.
You might have rad this post and thought “well, Ang really didn’t do anything exciting enough to write a whole post about,” and you’d be right (lol). Nothing I shared here was extraordinary and a lot of it was pretty simple and perhaps unexciting. But the point is, I made it through the year. I made it through this dumpster fire of a year, and I’m proud to just share that with you.
This morning I was watching a talk show and a woman whose name I didn’t catch said something along the lines of that we have to stop claiming this year to be the worst one yet. Everyone’s story is different, and someone may have already had worse years than this one. Is this one of the worst years in history for our country? Absolutely. But I guess it was a wakeup call to me to be reminded that for some, this year was much worse than for others. It sounds harsh to say, but has this been the worst year of my life so far? Definitely. But in the grand scheme of things, will it be the worst year of my life as a whole? Absolutely not. It made me take a second to revel in appreciation for the life that I do have, and for how fortunate I am to be coming out of 2020 as unscathed as I am.
I have many, many things that I am manifesting and putting out into the universe for 2021, and I am going to hold those things close to my heart and tackle them with quiet grace. Quite the oxymoron there, tackling with grace, but I’m discovering that that’s the best way to ensure my own happiness and sanity. Looking back at what I wrote myself at the end of last year, I think I’ve accomplished some big things that do matter. I’ve learned how to better practice self-love and self-care. I’ve learned not to look to others to establish my worth and have become so much more secure in my sense of self; the independence I’ve gained is incredible. I didn’t hold back how I was feeling, and I asked for help when I needed it. And I most definitely embraced my passions, practiced what I loved, and I am still out here continuing to chase my dreams.
May you look back on 2020 and look for the good, no matter how big or how small. And may you keep chasing your dreams all the way into 2021. Thank you for being here. I love you. Let’s do this.