A Long Journey

My personal journey to University of Michigan has certainly been an interesting one. It creates great table talk, explaining how I’m a transfer student from Houston, Texas, and wow, isn’t it cold? But to me, it’s more than that. This journey here now defines me, and this entire life I have been living has been almost like a dream.

Since I was very little I’ve always been quite a definite person. Yes, I like cheese enchiladas. No, I don’t like the refried beans. My personality has always been quite honest, and even my friends now know when something’s up, even just by the way I text.

So when I started appearing on stage, I knew I was home. Being on stage, playing parts in thick costumes underneath heavy lights that blind me from the world, I let go. I dropped everything at the stage door and pretended to be someone else for a while. I invested in theatre. I breathed theatre, and while I had very little opportunities, I took every crumb I could get. I told myself I was passionate, and that would carry me through.

And then, one day, my mom drove me downtown. We went inside the building, and my legs were shaking. I was wearing leggings, shorts, and a T-Shirt, along with my favorite (and new) jazz shoes. I met so many different people, teens of all ages, shapes, and sizes. I clung to the forms as tight as I could, and I chanted you can do this. You can do this. You can do this.

I introduced myself more times than I could count. Everyone greeted me with a smile that hid the razors I could see in their eyes. This wasn’t a time to make friends; this was battle.

And battle I did. From the very first time I talked to the other kids, I knew I was hopelessly outmatched and outwitted.

I’ve been taking ballet for the past 10 years.

Oh. I mean, I took ballet when I was 6, but I never continued.

I’m in state choir. Really? You made state? I just sing for whoever shows up at our concerts – usually just parents.

But Jeannie isn’t the kind of person to give away her dream that easily.

The dance portion was the best. I could tell I was having fun, even with the sweat starting to form. I did my dance with a smile, and felt the music running through me. But try as hard as I do, and even with the natural disposition I have to music, fun cannot beat training. It took me longer to learn the steps, and even when I performed them from memory, I stumbled. But, like I said, I lacked training, and so I knew after I was finished performing that it was not star quality.

But I had more faith in my singing. While, again, I am untrained, I had more faith that I have a good singing voice, and the song I chose suited me, since it was upbeat, in a soprano range, and had sections dedicated to belting, which my choir told me I could do well with high notes.

So I was going to be okay. I could do it.

That afternoon, I walked into a room with three judges, and I left with four.

My accompaniment was perfect. The setting was right, I had the song and the notes completely memorized, and my nerves were assuaged after the brutal dance portion. But when I walked in, the judges didn’t look up at me. They didn’t acknowledge me, didn’t even know that I was there. And so, in one of the biggest regrets of my life, I started the song, dropped the middle, and ended, leaving the room with a self-esteem that sunk deep into my heart.

And that was the last straw. After that audition, I knew I couldn’t do it. I didn’t even compare to those who had been training their whole lives for their dream. I didn’t sacrifice anything, I didn’t deserve it.

Looking back, I realize it was a stupid mistake, and I shouldn’t blame myself for not having the courage to pursue acting as a profession. I thought that I knew who I was. Like when I was younger, I thought it was yes or no. Yes, I was going to be an actress and be fulfilled in my life, because it was the only thing that could fulfill me. Or no, I wasn’t, and I would lead an unhappy life trapped in a cubicle. My future looked gray.

But instead of coming to University of Michigan to pursue acting, I decided to pursue writing instead. And it seems like everything has fallen into place since then. I found this job, and I found so many friends and faculty whom I love and find happiness in. I’ve found clubs, and friends who share my passion, who look at writing not as a hobby on the side of something else, some other dream, but as their only dream, their only happiness. Through these people I’ve found my courage. I’ve been encouraged in my writing, and I absolutely love the time I get to spend writing these blogs. So no, I’m not pursuing acting. But yes, I am fulfilled. And maybe someday, I’ll get to see my name on the screen. But instead of being an actress, I’ll be credited with the beautiful script I wrote.

And that’s why University of Michigan isn’t just a far off dream school for a girl far from her Texas home. It isn’t just a college, where I study books and get grades and eat food. To me, this school has been where I’ve seen life happen, where I’ve seen bonds formed, and where I’ve seen a new dream that started from a tiny, unwanted seed grow into a beautiful flower that breathed new life into me.

Jeannie Marie

A Venn Diagram of hipster music, sappy romantic comedies, nerd culture, adorable puppies, film trivia, totally not rigged awards shows, random illustritive quotes with a dash of not-quite-there-yet charm.

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