My Response to Goldey-Beacom College

Dear Goldey-Beacom College:

It was brought to my attention recently that you decided that the attached mailer was an appropriate way to convince prospective students to attend your college.

Let me start off by saying that I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t stay in Delaware after high school (where I was a proud member of my high school band, thank you) and attend your esteemed institution. Instead, I attended a university in a different state, where I majored in — gasp! — theatre. (Which I’m sure you have equally amazing opinions of, as your opinion of music majors is so positive and encouraging.)

Being in the band in high school helped to make me the person I am today: a team member, a team leader, a world traveler. It gave me confidence and pride in myself and in my fellow band mates. It gave me lifelong friends, joy, passion, and a purpose. You know, useless things that don’t really matter in real life, in “real” jobs. Our motto above our band room door read: “We have one, and only one ambition: To be the best. Was else is there?” (Do your business classrooms have such inspiring mottos above their doors, I wonder?)

A few years after graduating from college, I moved to New York City. The only place I ever wanted to be. I worked as a barista while I attended auditions, where I sat on floors for hours at a time, waiting to spew out a 60 second monologue in the hopes of performing on a New York City stage. I received a few callbacks. Got accepted into an acting company. Little bits of proof that I made the correct decision to be a performing arts major. I was happy.

But then I allowed those people, the people like the ones that wrote the copy on your recent mailer, to get into my head. To convince me I needed a “real” job. To work in an office for a corporation. Because THAT’S real life. Real life isn’t spent on floors, memorizing lines. Real life isn’t wanting to be a part of something bigger than myself, to perform roles that spark emotion and action and cause people to think and feel and respond and make change. Real life is sitting behind a desk, 40++++ hours a week, toiling away, paying my dues.

And, like a fool, I listened. I accepted a “real” job. And it destroyed me.

Hours a day, hunched over a computer, often with no window, no natural light. I paid for endless appointments for massages and acupuncture to help ease the knots in my shoulders, to calm my stressful days, to no avail. I was treated like a piece of furniture in one such job, accused of things I didn’t do by VPs that didn’t bother to learn my name. Another boss took credit for my work, and got a promotion from it. I saw too many hard-working people get laid off during the recession.

Having a “real” job was proving to be scary, and they were far from “meaningful.” My confidence dropped to zero. My joy faltered. My passion — gone. Over time, the physical, mental, and emotional stress became too much. I developed chronic pain so badly that doctors were dumbfounded, unable to fix me. Because I took a “real” job, these side-effects pushed me to make the heart breaking decision to leave the only city I loved because the health problems became too unbearable. My arms, my legs, my body (and my heart) full of nothing but pain. All day. Every day.

It’s taken me six years, living somewhere I do not belong, desperate to heal my body (and mind, and heart), searching, searching, searching for answers. How, where, what to do in this next chapter of my life in order to feel joy again, instead of pain.

I was exhausted.

Until I saw your mailer.

Until I saw the ignorance and the insensitivity that clearly still runs rampant in those who ignore the importance of the arts. The arts gave me life. REAL life. I don’t want to “satisfy” my passion. I want to live it. (And I will take sitting on a floor over sitting behind a desk any day.)

If you are looking to bounce back quickly from the backlash you’re receiving from this mailer, well, good luck with that.

You may say this letter is a little over the top, a little much, a little too dramatic.

But what can I say? I was a theatre major. And I have one and only one ambition: To be the best. What else is there?

**Note: This is my story. My experience. I don’t condemn business degrees, or any other degree that is non-arts related. (Though, the arts are everywhere, really.) Nor am I saying that the arts are the perfect path. Every career has its challenges. I applaud those who are happy and successful in all jobs/careers/disciplines. I am merely stating that everyone should do what’s best for them, be it business, music, theatre, architecture, engineering, medicine, law, etc. and ignore the haters that try to deter you from your path. And can we maybe just respect and support each other’s paths instead of insisting any one path is superior? That’d be great.

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