The “why” behind the path not chosen

My back story

From a young age, I got enjoyment from entertaining others. “Picture this”…(a heads up, I tend to quote lines from my favorite sitcoms like Golden Girls)… I was 5 when my nana Martell took me to a children’s holiday show.   To fully appreciate the story, you need to understand her.   Three things about my nana.  She was a majestic English woman who always dressed to the nines and often said the word “bloody.”  She loved her cigarettes and tea…and three, she was VERY neurotic and worrisome.   Many of my phobias come from her.   Germs for one.  Never touch a bathroom door handle.  Also, don’t forget to check nearby bathroom stalls before entering one (did you see the movie Copycat?). She always thought someone was out to get her.   Double checking…no…triple checking the stove before leaving the house.  I could go on but I digress.  Back to the show…The layout of the auditorium was such that the kids sat up front and adults in the back, meaning my nana had to leave me alone.   Not sure how, but she walked back to her seat. (I was told later in life that letting go of my hand gave her a mild panic attack.)  At some point, she looked back and I was gone.  Panic set in and she started screaming my name while running up and down the aisles.   A few minutes go by……can you guess where I was?  On stage.  Dancing!  (And shortly after, we were standing outside the building – my nana needed a smoke.)   This was my first memory of wanting to make people smile and laugh.

I know what you’re thinking now.  I really do.  Why didn’t I pursue acting years ago?  Why now?  Until recently, I believed I had a good reason.  Our childhoods shape us steering us in a certain direction.  Mine certainly altered the path I followed in life.   My father left when I was six, leaving mom to raise my newborn brother and me alone.   Something else …my brother was born with a collapsed lung.   They didn’t have the technology then so doctors said he would probably die.  He survived!  After several months in an incubator, mom and I took him home.   He was truly a miracle baby.    So, there was mom on her own with two kids and no money.  She struggled for years working multiple jobs to keep a roof over our head and put food on the table, on top of dealing with the baggage that comes from divorce and single parenting.  I have a deep respect and admiration for her – she did her damndest to maintain a level of normalcy and strength, and despite being a single parent, worked hard to provide for us in material and intangible ways.  I know this is not a unique situation but it’s an important part of my story.

I was NOT going to have those struggles.  One of the most important lessons I learned from mom was never to rely on a man…..or anyone for that matter…..for financial security.  I would be self-reliant.  So, I went the more prudent route, the fastest path to getting there…college, internships, the business world.  I did not hop on a train to NYC to live the life of a starving actor (who often waited tables to pay the bills).  I chose financial security.  Don’t get me wrong… I would like to have money again, but it’s NOT worth sacrificing happiness.   So, here’s to my new “path!”

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