The reasons I started blogging were completely selfless and selfish.
Communicating how I feel is how I process my thoughts and emotions, whether that be through singing, whining, dancing, talking to a friend over coffee, screeching on the phone with my sister etc. and so forth. Thus, I selfishly started this blog in part as a form of therapy; a way for me to communicate with myself, process how I’m feeling and reach out to others.
At the same time, whether this was idealistic or not, when I started this blog, I also hoped that people reading my posts would potentially feel the catharsis I felt whilst writing them, or at least something equally beneficial. To feel like “no one is alone“. Thus, a primary aim of starting this blog was to promote empathy and community, at least on a small scale.
Since I started blogging, I came across two websites/organizations and one form of qualitative analysis (obvs) that I’m realizing have really impacted my understanding of and recharged my passion for sharing my story and way of seeing the world:
- Empathy Lab, an incredible organization I’ve started volunteering for that broadly aims to strengthen the relationship between reading/writing/learning and empathy.
- Second, a couple of months ago a new friend of mine showed me her website, What Would Julie Do?, dually a love-letter to Dame Julie Andrews and self-help guide for musical theatre lovers. Although I haven’t had the chance to attend one, her live shows are what really got me excited about her endeavor: talented singers singing show tunes that they’ve resonated with and sharing how the shows/songs/characters have impacted their lives.
- Finally, when I first met my friend George, he told me about the magic of auto-ethnography, a self-reflective form of qualitative research that I hope to pursue in the future.
Now, onto my new blogging series. For each blog post, which will come out at least weekly, I’m going to choose a song/character/musical/lyric that has significantly impacted my life and unpack why and how. I’m hoping it will cross the barriers of love-letter/psychological analysis/self-reflection/catharsis/empathy/fun-times! Here we go…
“She Used To Be Mine” – the 11 o’clock number from Waitress the Musical (music & lyrics: Sara Bareilles
“It’s not simple to say/that most days I don’t recognize me/that these shoe and this apron, that place and its patrons/have taken more than I gave”
This song is one of those pieces of music that can immediately change my mood. It’s sad, but not depressing; empowering but also nostalgic in a really beautiful way.
I saw Waitress on Broadway with my mom last summer (2016) and whilst I was moved and enjoyed the music, I didn’t fall in love with the show right away. First of all, in my opinion, it’s difficult to compete with the original movie and my mom and I spent a lot of the time comparing the two. In addition, I wasn’t in the best place at the time. I’d just started a period of intermission from my PhD after switching primary supervisors and had one year to submit my thesis. I was also, understandably, depressed.
Then, in 2017, after chatting with an awesome musical theatre friend who is also a teacher, I realized how much I can relate to Jenna and that feeling of empathy is epitomized in this song.
My PhD experience definitely took more from me than I gave. Meaning, (side note: such a great lyric!) the PhD stole more from me than I ever consented to give it. Then, why did I stay in the program for 4 years? Because I was passionate? Because I knew I wanted to stay in academia for the rest of my life? Because I have an above average level of determination and grit?
Fuck no. Well, maybe a bit.
I was also genuinely scared to quit. Studying and pleasing teachers was all I knew. And the worst part of it al was that, although I was lucky enough to continue having singing lessons with an incredible teacher, I’d stopped performing. I just didn’t have the time or I didn’t make time for it…one or the other. Or both.
So, here I was, the beginning of 2017. 6 months away from submitting my thesis and feeling completely empty. Completely drained, scared to quit, wondering how I’d even manage to finish this thing I’d given too much of myself.
Then, a blast from the past happened! I was invited to volunteer at a recruitment fair for my old sleep away camp, French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, basically, the greatest place on earth. I spent 7 summers as a camper and 2 as a camp counselor/voice teacher/vocal coach and those summers gave me more than I could have dreamed. I grew up there. I learned how to take care of myself, to be my own person, to sing, to perform, to be a good friend. I had bad days and stressful experiences, sure, but the net worth of those summers is immeasurable. I wouldn’t be who I am today without those summers.
Attending that recruitment fair and chatting with the owner and an awesome head counselor brought back a flood of memories, emotions, passions and dreams that laid dormant. That I’d more or less suppressed or forgotten about. “I didn’t have ‘time” to entertain that molly’ I’d tell myself when I was crying over a difficult three-way interaction or trying to please a supervisor I just didn’t get on with.
The amazing thing about Jenna’s journey in this song and throughout the musical/movie/whatevs is it normalizes surviving abuse. Abuse in all of its forms has been normalized…basically forever, but surviving abuse is a different story. In my opinion, you don’t hear the survivors’ perspective nearly enough.
That has got to change.
Alrighty, thanks for reading my first post in this series :0) Any feedback/comments/questions/complaints (I suppose…) are welcome!