The other day, I was walking around aimlessly in Manhattan to clear my mind and think about what is going on with life right now. With no particular destination, random thoughts filled my mind--especially dreams and goals I made exactly three years ago. Three years ago, I echoed to myself. Is that a long time? Did I let these three years slip by? Have I been floating? To go off on floating--I finally learned how to swim when I was 21. I was a senior at Smith, have always been afraid of the water because I almost drowned as a kid on a beach trip with my kindergarten class. I thought to myself if I didn't learn how to swim now, I would never be able to learn--or my willingness to learn will diminish as I age. And so, I signed up for the class.
Most of us in the class didn't know how to swim. Some knew how to float and doggy paddle around, but not technical at all. Everyone caught on pretty quicky and began swimming in less than three weeks of class. I, on the other hand, clung on to the wall and was not able to float. I was still deathly afraid of the water, and did not trust myself to let go and let the water in. I went to the pool in the morning, during lunch, and after class; breathe underwater. Just breathe. I was there so often that the lady who works at the pool came over and told me I shouldn't be afraid. "The water will keep you afloat, if only you trust it enough." She told me to trust science and my body. "Let go," she kept telling me. She even demonstrated how to float and pick herself back up from the water. She said it's easy. And so I tried and tried and tried, and failed every single time. Until finally, I was able to float. This was after 5-6 weeks of hanging onto the wall.
The next month, I swam on my back to the 5 ft mark (I'm 5'1). It wasn't until the last four weeks of class that I finally swam to the deep end. Every time I swam, a deep fear surge into my mind: what if I drown? This thought consumed me once or twice as I hit the wall in the deep end. I swam and as I hit the final strokes to the deep end's wall, I lost grip. I had to be saved by the life guard. I shouldn't do this anymore, I told myself. What if I drown?
The last week of Senior year, I went back to the pool everyday--every moment I had. The final test for Swimming 101 was coming up and I knew I had to get over it--especially since the final test was to jump off the springboard into the deep end, and then swim back to the shallow end. Needless to say, I was scared shitless, but I said "it's okay, just jump, float, and swim on your back." There was a huge build-up before I leaped into the water. But I jumped without thinking, pushed against the water, got on my back, and swam the whole lap.. taking in the view of the crevices of the ceiling, flags. Victory--is this what victory feels like? That was the craziest thing I ever had to do.
If I have to compare where I am right now in life (especially acting) with learning how to swim / float, I would say I'm somewhat still standing at the 5 feet mark, wondering if I should swim into the deep end. There is comfort in knowing I can swim to the 5 feet mark and still be able to stand on the pool ground if I become scared. And so, I'm taking laps back and forth within the 5 feet mark, not pushing myself to get further into the deep end because once I leave the 5 feet mark, I will not be able to stand. What if I drown?
I drowned about two months ago--twice. Over the winter, I was lost. At crossroads, I should say. I was motivated to restart the YouTube channel, but stopped after two months because I did not have a clear idea what I should do. It forced me to question deep down: what do I really want to do? And when I repeatedly found myself drifting back to acting and telling meaningful stories, I left YouTube behind. It was painful. That pain motivated me to rewrite the solo show I gave up on last summer when I focused on writing the short film. I picked it up again and began to write and rewrite non-stop for a whole month. I made the deadline for the NY Fringe Festival in mid-January. I was crossing my fingers, full of hope--hoping I can finally share this story with the world. I was rejected on Tuesday, April 28 around the afternoon time. I cried. That night, I went on my first motorcycle ride, and the pain slowly withered away as the adrenaline kicked in. It calmed me down. I didn't look at the solo show for another two months; but now, I'm looking at it again.
This is the point where I'm standing at the 5 feet mark, wondering if I should swim to the deep end. Deep end meaning I might rewrite the whole thing that it's completely different from what I had originally planned. Should I rewrite? What if I drown in the process?
But I know i will float. I will float. Just do it and don't worry about it. Don't think.
You will float. You will swim.