Goodbye 2020: The Year of Very Uncomfortable Personal Growth
At the beginning of January 2020 we were jumping into an ocean of new adventures and optimism.
After spending a year and a half as an understudy for Zoe and Alana on the First National Tour of Dear Evan Hansen, and after having performed around 143 shows, I was finally being promoted to “Everyday Alana” meaning I was going to get the experience of every single show. While high on the dopamine of performance excitement and a little bit of anxiety I was also in a relationship.
Somehow I had clicked with someone on Hinge, while being on tour, and what started off as a cute little date turned into a long distance relationship. As quickly as my Alana tour ended, because of the pandemic, so did my relationship. It turned out I had accidentally gotten into a relationship with a Jesus-loving-manipulating-blue eyed boy-with an undetected case of bipolar disorder. We’ll get into that later.
But when the pandemic hit and everything came crashing down I took it as a time to reset. A mini retreat if you will. Hell, at that time we all thought we’d be coming back in a few months. With no concept of how everything would be shut down or even how deadly the virus would be, it just seemed like a nice time to finally take off of tour.
So naturally I went into overdrive. I gave myself no excuses for being creative. So I basically did the opposite of rest. I felt that if I didn’t focus on my blog, or collaborate with brands, or become a better guitar player and come out with an album at the end of this, everything will have been for not. But I didn’t consider getting adjusted to my new parents place, or giving up my alone time that was always promised to me when I lived on the road, or the rushing unfinished feelings that came back about all my exes.
A little bit about my dating history: I had dated someone for three years. Pretty much throughout all of college I thought I would be married to this person and during the first year of tour (2019) he broke up with me over the phone. You know how people say it came out of nowhere? Well this time it really did. I mean, the initial break up came out of nowhere. The reasonings became more clear while I was coming to terms with the breakup. But initially, he had a nightmare about us breaking up that apparently really rocked him and made him realize he had to do it for real. I’m not making this shit up. I thought it was a joke and the guy broke up with me that night. Fast forward to the very next night where he tells me he “made a mistake” to which I say “write me a letter and tell me why you wanna get back together with me” (ever the dramatic, I know). And guess what? The letter never came. For reasons he’s still not really sure how to explain but this isn’t about him so we’ll move along.
The breakup itself wasn’t really what rocked me the most. It was saying goodbye to the life I thought I was going to spend with this person. Wondering if I’d ever be able to open up to someone like that again. I tried dating a little too early, just so I could say “i still got it” you know? But it turned out I didn’t really have the confidence for it. Or the energy. My god the amount of energy it takes to invest in someone on a first date. TOO MUCH. You have to be on your best behavior and show your flirty side but also your “don’t fuck with me” side so they know you’re not just looking for a hook up and then answer the same questions everyone always asks, but the worst part is sharing what you do as an actor because that really is a novelty to them.
Fast forward through a couple of dates, a couple of shy kisses, a couple of ghosting done on both sides, to the second year of tour and i’m dating christian boy with blue eyes and a manipulating agenda derived from bipolar disorder. I guess it wasn’t his fault because he didn’t know. While I’m proud of myself for getting out of it when I did, sometimes I feel like it’s my fault. Initially I had a light case of survivors guilt. “Why didn’t I get out of it sooner? If I really love myself like I say I do, why did I go back to him after that argument? I chalk it up to a lot of things. His relationship to God was inspiring to me. I gravitated towards being with someone who loved his faith and everything he did was informed by it. So when he spoke to me a certain way those things would go over my head because I always assumed his intentions were good. You don’t think that a Christian boy can be a gas lighter but oh boy those are the deadliest kinds.
But the day after I broke up with him all the back and forth about the decision seemed so stupid. And I kid you not, a song called “Therapist” by Mae Muller came on my Spotify “discover weekly” in which the lyrics are “you don’t need a girlfriend, you just need a therapist” and this was ‘BEFORE he found out he had bipolar disorder. God was saving me from something that had the chance of getting really bad. All I knew was that I didn’t want to be with someone who treated me like THAT. The day after I broke up with him he checked himself into a psych ward and was diagnosed. So In case you’re wondering, I did not break up with him BECAUSE he had it. I broke up with him for the inconsistency and manipulation he brought into our relationship that was a product of it. We had only been together for two months and despite his plea of “now I know that I have it and now that i’m on medication, we can get through this together.” I stood my ground and politely obliged. And to that he immediately got in a relationship with someone else and that’s all I’ll say about that because this isn’t about him.
So here I am in quarantine contemplating these relationships. “Why did I stay so long if I knew the love wasn’t really there anymore? “Why did I let this person take advantage of me?” And while that is simmering i’m making peace with finding happiness without productivity. I felt like quarantine gave me no choice but to completely strip down all my thoughts and come face to face with the parts of them I thought I had made peace with. There was a point where I felt extremely lonely, incredibly misunderstood, and then felt like I was being dramatic for doing so. But feelings demand to be felt and there is no going around them, only through them.
So I journaled, and I did yoga, and I had a lot of quiet time, and family time, and worked on my relationship with God through bible study, and stayed close to the friendships that I realized could survive through any pandemic. I focused on creating for joy not for a finished product. I focused on writing for myself and choosing to share what I thought was helpful. I collaborated with strangers on the internet and created a piece i’m really proud of. I worked from the inside and not the outside. I gave myself the space I needed to mourn my past relationships because they have not only taken things from me but also contributed to parts of who and what I am. I decided to learn from them and let them inform the next relationship I would have even though I was extremely terrified of getting close to someone again. I feared that I either wasn’t ready or that I never wanted to hurt in those ways again. So when Charlie came into my life, to be honest, I didn’t think I was ready. Also, I don’t think I wanted to be. I didn’t really expect to find this kind of love for a few more years. But that’s a story for another time. I think he deserves his own blog post. Wouldn’t you?
My 2021 New Years Resolutions are inspired by all the things I’ve realized I’ve lacked. The self-confidence to walk into any room knowing exactly who I am and not waiting for someone to affirm that. Standing my ground more, not letting people walk over me for the sake of being liked, and the thing i’m the most excited for is creating with no judgment and no fear. This year is going to be about stepping into my power and i’m excited to see the kind of things that open up for me when I start walking around like I already have them.