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BWW Blog: A Letter to the COVID-Era Theatre Student

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With change there is adapting,  and our minds can’t keep up with the times if we don’t help them.

BWW Blog: A Letter to the COVID-Era Theatre Student

We're in the middle of one of the scariest and most stressful events our generation has had to face. We have not known a crisis like this. And - somehow - we're expected to continue living and learning as though the world is not upside-down.

After spending five months in quarantine with my family in Florida, I (safely) flew 1,000 miles to my school in Illinois. I needed to be back. I missed my friends, my teachers, and was desperate to learn. I'd romanticized my return as this wonderful homecoming, but the truth is a great deal lonelier. I'll never compare my COVID-time experience to anyone else's; I have healthy family and friends and have avoided the virus myself. At the same time, this period has been difficult for my peers and I. A great amount of adapting was expected of both teachers and students and continues to shake us as new challenges are thrown our way every day.

That said, now is not the time to ignore our mental health. With change there is adapting, and our minds can't keep up with the times if we don't help them. We need to be doing the best for ourselves right now, because as young adults preparing for a career that doesn't currently exist, we can't afford to come out of this crisis anything but strong. There is a long road ahead for us, and none of it is certain. That's scary. No one can take those feelings of helplessness away from us, but that doesn't mean we should let them rule us. We're in this business because we can take a (metaphorical) punch. At some point, theatre will come back full throttle, and we need to be ready for it.

I have had my struggles with mental health, with feelings of convalescence and being so incomprehensibly overwhelmed. I get it. So do my peers. If you feel the same way, don't think you're alone in those thoughts. If you feel stuck and don't know how to take your first step back into the sun - that's why I'm here. Below are some things I remind myself of often, and they may be helpful to you as well.

DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. We all deal with change in our own ways - and just because someone is succeeding outwardly doesn't mean they feel the same inside. We need to support each other (which is what we do best).

STAY HEALTHY! Mental and physical health go hand-in-hand. If it's been an emotional day, go for a run! Of course, when you're not doing well mentally, the act of getting dressed and going outside can seem impossible. I promise, after forcing yourself to get up and out a few times, it'll be part of your daily routine. Eat well, stay hydrated, and treat your body like the temple of artistic knowledge and talent it is.

STAY CONNECTED. It's easy to isolate, but we need to try not to. Though socially distanced, your friends are there, and they care. Do your best to be good to your people, because they need kindness and support as much as you do right now. Take care of each other.

LEARN! You're where you are for a reason. You're an ARTIST. This is somehow the most perfect time to dive into your work. There's nothing to do but focus on your creative endeavors.

The world needs you. Your mind is so chock-full of wonderful ideas - you can't deny those around you of your genius! Spend an extra hour in the dance studio working on today's lesson and analyze that play like nobody's business. Your future self will be grateful that this small blip in your lifetime of learning was not wasted. Let your emotions intensify your passion for your work.

Around the world, artists have risen to the challenges created by the virus. We are no different. We are the next generation of creative minds. The worst we can do is not take ourselves and this odd time seriously. We all have our artistic end-goals, but those don't come without hard work. Take this opportunity for personal and artistic growth, and hope that come graduation the world will have mended itself in preparation for your brilliance. For now, get after it.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Grace Callahan