As I sat at my homeroom desk during the last semester of high school, I stared at a yearbook form. The last one I’d ever fill out. A blank space directly placed next to categories such as ‘favorite memory’, ‘favorite class’, and ‘career’. In the career line, I wrote in comedian. In high school, most of my Friday and Saturday nights were spent watching Saturday Night Live or renting movies from the neighborhood Blockbuster. I was proudly voted Class Clown by my graduating class. Classmates, teammates, friends and family were always complementing me that I remind them of a Kristen Wiig or an Amy Poehler. I studied their comedy with dreams of working for late night TV one day. Be like Tina. Be like Amy. Be like Kristen. Be like Rachel. It took me nearly 26 years, but I finally started clearly seeing and hearing BE ALLY screaming from my spirit guides. I know how I feel when I stop and listen to their guidance, to my own inner voice. I feel better. At ease. I feel more me.
To my surprise and mind opening frustration, my life path veered away from being the next best comedic actress. I tried and tried and fought and fought every day and night for comedy. I was being who and what I thought they wanted me to be. I never asked myself if that’s what I truly wanted until last year. Was the comedy path giving me energy and love and happiness or taking that away from me? I love the people I worked with in and out of classes at renowned Chicago comedy hotspots like The Second City, iO and The Annoyance. I met some of my closest friends in the Chicago comedy scene. I cherish those people and the work we did together. Those relationships make me happy, but in the setting we were in took so much of my energy and then some and then even more after being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
Two months after my diagnosis, I asked myself the following two questions: Why am I pursuing comedy? and Do I want this? Part of me to this day still yearns for the stage, arriving to my bed each night on a natural high from a laughing audience. I was so sure comedy was where I was supposed to be that I even went back to classes and performing less than two weeks post-op from diagnostic surgery for endometriosis. However, that sureness faded each and every time I was leaving a theater with less and less energy. I’m not just talking about the energy it takes to physically put on a show. It was my soul’s energy that took the biggest hit.
Then came the answer to the next question: Do I want this? My answer: no. This life path of comedy does not vibrate with my soul nor does my soul vibrate with it. It took a serious diagnosis for me to answer truthfully to that question. My health is my number one priority. Performing comedy did not feed me in the way I need to be nourished. And that’s okay. Hell, that’s actually amazing. Answering truthfully took a load off of my mind, my body and my soul. My body needed to figure some things out. So, I gave myself my very own big break: I dropped out of the conservatory program at The Second City two months before graduating. I could barely focus and be in the moment in that program while my body was longing for me to tend to her.
I skipped class one night and went to the grocery store instead. I wanted a nap and some fresh food. So that’s exactly what I did after work that day. I clocked out at 6:00pm, walked home, napped, put on a dress and went to the store. I felt relief on my body and clarity in my head. Freer. I told my friend Nikki first about dropping out of the conservatory. She was not surprised and also incredibly supportive. I then told my mom. She was surprised but also incredibly supportive.
In so many ways am I still a comedian. I make my people laugh every day. More importantly, I make myself laugh, too. If I ever return to the stage, I would be doing it for myself, unlike before. Although not without success, I was holding on to a high school dream. That was the hardest part: letting go of something I am good at. I kept showing up to not let my cast mates down. But they’re so talent it’s stupid. They didn’t need me to finish out the program. To my blissful surprise: those cast mates could not be more supportive when I departed the group, and they all remain supportive and a part of my life still today. Their presence in my life is something I will always treasure. I love you, Simple Syrup.
The stage will always be there, but my health won’t be. I was not thriving because I was not focusing on the things that make me thrive. I was saving all of my energy for a stage that took it away too quickly. After the fall, I started giving in to what else my life path was pulling me toward, and it’s something I return to time and time again. The winter was rough, but by spring of this year, I stopped resisting and gave in to it. I am a writer. All of my endeavors end up being for writing anyway. I dove in and started showing up. This year, I started an LGBTQ+ writing group. I launched my blog called CELEZBRATIONS where I explore life with endometriosis and celebrate along the way. I began dating again and now am in a growing, healthy relationship. I gave CrossFit a chance, and although I do not make it consistently to the box, I am muscularly stronger than I was this time last year. I write on a daily basis whether it’s for ten minutes or for two hours. I got back on my mat and routinely go to yoga twice a week. Meditation has slowly crept back into my days, as well. All of these things give me energy and love and happiness. All because I not only asked myself hard questions, but I allowed myself to listen to the answer. I am thrilled to see where my path leads me next.