Thursday, April 26, 2018

On Moving Forward In The Face of Unknowns

Lately, I've been hit with an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty, restlessness, and anxiety over what the future's going to hold.

This past January, I finally got an opportunity that I've been chasing literally since I graduated high school. I feel like I can't talk about it too much (don't want to jinx it), but I auditioned for a professional ice show. I would literally get to do what I love, every single day, for my job. Leading up to it, I pulled out all of the stops. I trained harder, an even focused on working on some of my mental blocks, so I wouldn't crack under pressure.

As far as I am concerned, all of that hard work paid off. I left extremely proud of what I put out there, and confident that I had showed them not only my best self, but also an accurate portrayal of what they'd be getting should the hire me. Since I auditioned when the show was closest to me, back in January, it's been a very long wait since contracts aren't really out until late spring. For a while, I was fine. I felt good, I didn't panic. But lately? It's all I can think about. I have to actively resist the urge to email them every day, begging them to just hire me.

I am still waiting to hear back with a definitive yes or no. I've followed up, but was only told that they don't have an answer yet. Which is definitely better than being told no...but still. I'm getting very nervous.

I don't even know if I can describe how much I want this. It's literally the only thing I've know, for sure, that I wanted to do with my life. While touring itself would be an amazing opportunity, it would also open up so many doors for my life after I stop wanting to live on the road. This could set the stage for my whole career, and therefore my whole life (I understand I'm being very dramatic).

All of this unknown is making it extremely hard for me to focus and push myself this spring. I have so many ideas for different projects, but I just keep starting them and then getting overwhelmed, sad, and feeling some major impostor syndrome. This summer, I could either be starting an incredible journey of living on the road and skating for a living, or I could just am I going to do if I'm still here? What if I end up repeating this exact same year over again?

I understand that this kind of emotional crisis is what every other 21 year-old experiences, and that I'm being dramatic. I understand that one audition doesn't make or break a career. I understand that if I just stay positive, and work hard, I will end up exactly where I'm supposed to be. But like, tell that to the butterflies in my stomach because they will not stop the anxiety attacks.

My big question is, since there's not much I can do about this state of unknown, how can I continue to move forward and make progress, so that I'm in a good place whether it's the best or worst case scenario? Instead of exclusively focusing on how to make myself more hire-able (because I've already put a lot of work there, and obsessing actually holds back my progress), what do I really want to see happen in my skating, work, life?

I know that I want to focus on longevity. I don't plan on quitting skating, even once I become 'too old' (no such thing). So with that in mind, I can afford to take a breath. I want to focus on learning everything I can about the sport, and improving some technique that I'm not happy with. This is going to take a lot of time. Working on my jump technique has already been at the forefront of my mind for over a year, and it's still got a ways to go. But really, there isn't a rush.

I want to challenge myself artistically. While competing with my TOI team is always a great creative boost, I also want to challenge myself to create more of my own stuff. I'm planning on choreographing my own Showcase program this year, and am performing with AIT-Boston this spring, which involves a lot of improv.

I want to be trained enough to pass two freestyle tests. There are 8 freestyle tests you can work towards passing through USFSA, and I've only got three left: Novice, Junior, and Senior. I really, really want to pass through Junior by July (if you follow me on Instagram, this is my 100 day project). No going around it, for that to happen I have to be putting everything towards training. I need more stamina. More fight to get all my jumps in. And frankly, I need to actually consistently land the required jumps, which I'm not always doing, even out of a program.

And finally, I want to write more. Writing has always been something I'm passionate about, and I've often toyed with the idea of figuring out how to pursue it professionally. But what would that look like? Could I dedicate enough time to it on top of skating and work? Could I ever make it full time? How do I write what I enjoy, not just pound out 1000 words for content mills?

I feel like more questions than answers. I'm terrified that I'll look back in 10 years at this time of my life, and realize I missed so many opportunities (maybe even the opportunity to enjoy this?). I'm so scared that I won't amount to anything, or, gasp, I'll just be an average person. I know myself well enough to know that this time next week I'll probably be happy and go-lucky, and believing the world is all possibility, but right now I just feel a little stuck. It's also raining today. Maybe I'll blame my mood on that.

But regardless of whether or not I feel like I'm moving forward correctly, I have to recognize that my life is and always will be progressing. I don't actually get to choose when, or to some extent how, I'm going to 'move forward'. Life just hands me a situation, and I have to figure out how to deal with.

So maybe, that is the action plan I so desperately want. Accept the situation that I've been given. Be grateful for how much progress I had to make to be in this situation. And then press on. Keep working. Keep experimenting. Take myself a little less seriously, but also take my ideas, my potential, a good deal more seriously.

Happy Thursday! Be the grittiest!
xoxo Gillian

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