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BWW Blog: From a Small Town to the Big City and Back Again - Choosing a Leave of Absence

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When I was weighing my options, attempting to make a decision, I thought about those dreams I’ve always had that have fleshed out into something more over the years.

BWW Blog: From a Small Town to the Big City and Back Again - Choosing a Leave of Absence

I am sitting in my living room, glancing from my computer to the windows. I look out the window, admiring the green pine needles draping from their branches and the green leaves with tints of an orange blaze, hinting at the New England autumn to come...

When I had first started attending school at NYU Tisch, leaving the Autumn leaves and home cooked Japanese meals, the perfectly constructed image of New York I held in my mind began to fall apart. I had imagined stepping into acting school, and immediately finding the artistic community that I had lacked in my small town and finding glimpses of theatrical success. I expected to immediately belong among the tall skyscrapers in the big city.

As most of us know, freshman year can be hard. It absolutely was for me. For the first time in my life, I longed to be back among the autumn trees filled with browning green and streaks of fiery red. I longed to be back home, watching a movie with my family, silently but happily in each other's presence. I beat myself up every day for wanting this. For wanting to escape the city that held my dream in its center.

As I have previously written about though. this period didn't last forever. Most things don't. It was temporary, and soon, I learned to be stronger, more independent, and found a sense of belonging among my many talented peers. I fell in love with New York and my craft and my community.

And now, with that period of my life seeming to be so recent and yet so long ago at the same time, I am back in my childhood home for the longest I have been since high school... And I have decided, this is where I'll be until classes go back in person. I have decided to take a leave of absence, which is probably one of the biggest and scariest decisions I've had to make.

When I was weighing my options, attempting to make a decision, I thought about those dreams I've always had that have fleshed out into something more over the years. Not only the ability to tell stories, but to be immersed in a human experience with other actors, potentially instigating empathy and change among audience members. I thought about that dream, and... I decided that what I wanted, and also with my specific learning methods, couldn't possibly be achieved through online learning, and... that's OK. Realizing that there's no rush to graduate and realizing that this time can be used for other things was hard to accept at first. It's hard when you see others attending school, or creating theatre somehow, or moving back to New York. It's hard not to compare. But what I've begun to realize, truly, is that everyone has their own path. I mean, it's a pretty basic concept, but for some reason it was always hard for me to accept in the past. I am my own unique person, right? We all are. My path as a Hapa Jew who loves to sing, act, move, write, and so much more, cannot possibly be on the same path that any of my peers take. None of us can.

BWW Blog: From a Small Town to the Big City and Back Again - Choosing a Leave of AbsenceAnd with this acceptance, an allowance to grow and work at my own tempo on my own path, has allowed space for my own growth. There's something about being forced to reckon with yourself and your own thoughts when stuck at home. I've given space for things I thought I didn't have time for as a busy college student, like my body image issues, my mental health, my confidence, my dancing, my singing, my relationships, and my emotions. I've been reminded of the simple joys in life, sitting by our slider door, listening to the birds chirping, with my dog's golden head in my lap. I've been reminded of what it means to be filled with love, and what it feels like to lose something as special as your childhood dog. I've been reminded of the release and joy I feel, when I don't think about being judged and allow my voice to be my own. I've been reminded of why I love the city, and why I will continue to miss it. A lot. This time that I've had, with ebbs and flows, moving up and rushing back down, up and down, like a roller coaster, is my own path that I've chosen for now. Not anyone else's but mine. And the ebbs and flows are ok. Because that's a part of growth. And it's crazy to think that even among a pandemic, it is possible to look within and outside yourself, and find a way to keep going and keep flourishing.



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From This Author Student Blogger: Alyssa Silver