I’ve never really felt the desire to stand out in a crowd. I tend to keep to myself, and I’d much rather stay and observe a situation, than confront it head on. While this is who I am now, it wasn’t always the case. Growing up, I was imaginative and creative. Whether making up a melody in my head or singing a random tune, I could always be seen wanting to entertain others.
In elementary school, I did talent shows. They were an outlet to allow myself to express my love for performing. Although I enjoyed myself, I never entertained the idea that I’d pursue the hobby as a career. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this was both enjoyable and a little frightening and would lead to me discovering part of myself that is now central to who I am today.
Throughout my elementary years, I immersed myself in many different extracurricular activities such as dance, gymnastics, and softball. While I enjoyed each of them, they never really stood out to me. It was as if I was unable to find my niche. During the transition from elementary to middle school, I began to gradually lose interest in creativity. Sure, I still enjoyed my pastime of singing, but I’d figured I should focus on adjusting to the new environment.
Middle school was a whole different ball game. My whole focus was on how others perceived me, rather than myself and what I want. It was difficult for me to imagine my entire future at such a young age. I made a simple, maybe even minute, decision that changed my entire outlook on life.
At the start of sixth grade, I was looking forward to trying new hobbies and joining different clubs. None really stood out to me, except for one: Drama Club. Since I already had some experience performing in front of a crowd, and I enjoyed singing, I figured this would be the perfect club for me to join. The middle school drama club in sixth grade was very small, and made up of mostly sixth graders.
We were to perform Seussical Jr., and I remember the audition process. I tried out for a lead role, and wasn’t the greatest. It was the first time I’d ever auditioned for anything before, so I was very nervous. The true turning point for me was my first performance. The second I stood behind the curtain, I could feel my nerves rushing through my body. Butterflies were swarming in my stomach, so much that I couldn’t process my surroundings.
Then it hit me. The audience’s cheers, and the overjoyed feeling I had rushing through me. I felt the audience’s energy radiating off me, empowering me in that moment. I remember how proud I was to overcome my fear and persevere. They didn’t see my nerves, so why should I let them get to me? Instead, I performed an entertaining show. At that moment I knew how monumental this experience was to me. I wasn’t myself, so my worries didn’t matter.
Now that I have better understanding of what I want to do with my life, I know I want to make people feel connected in a way they could never imagine. Acting has become become such a large part of my life and I owe it all to my drama club. Although I may not know what the future holds, I know I want to make an impact on people; to inspire them, and to prove you shouldn’t let your worries or self-doubts get in the way of following your dreams.
Gordon, 2022 S.S. Seward Institute graduate, won the Chrome Salon Scholarship for the Arts. She will major in theater at SUNY New Paltz beginning this fall.