For those of you that don’t know, my sister and I are both adopted. My adoption has never been kept a secret from me, but it is not a topic that my family dwells on. “She gave you to us because she loved you” and “we are so lucky to have you” are phrases I have heard my entire life. I am not ashamed of my adoption. It makes me proud, but, at the same time, it has held me back. I never felt unloved or unwanted, but it is definitely the cause of abandonment issues and extreme anxiety.
As I got older, my parents started noticing that I always found excuses not to go to slumber parties or on Girl Scout camping trips because I was afraid to spend the night away from home. I was constantly afraid that my family might leave while I was away or that something horrible would happen to them or me. I could not bring myself to even sleep at my best friend’s house, which is less than a block from mine. My anxiety held me back from wondrous trips with my friends and even my family, all of whom I trusted. Even with a big personality and big dreams, the idea of leaving home or changing up my routines was crippling. I remember learning about the dangers of lead in my fifth grade science lab, and it made me so afraid that I would never walk over a part of my carpet in my own room because I was absolutely sure that lead had touched it. I lived in a perpetual state of terror; almost as if I was going to stop breathing. I was always on alert for anything that could possibly go wrong.
The only time I felt “normal” was when I was performing; playing piano, speaking or acting. Ironically, I never spent the night away from home until I was fourteen, but I could perform in front of three hundred people with hardly any anxiety. I love the feeling of letting somebody into my world of performance, where the only things that matter are under my control. For me, performing was, and still is, the only place where I can channel my nervousness and have something beautiful become of it. Performing was a way for me to become somebody else, which I desperately wanted to do. I always wondered what it felt like to be able to spend the night away from home, or even to smell oleander without worrying I would be poisoned. Through theater, all of the characters that I played, whether it was a ditsy British girlfriend or an angsty teenager, I was able to leave my world and enter a new one. My characters were a perfect escape for me.
Unfortunately, every day cannot be a performance. Since I was four, I have felt like an outsider, and I hate that my anxiety makes my parents worry about me. I knew I felt troubled a lot of the time, and a small part of me thought it was because my biological mother did not love me enough to keep me. As I grow older, I like to think that she loved me more than anything because she selflessly gave me to a loving family. I will always need the thought that someone else out there is rooting for me.
At Dickinson, I’m doing way more theater than I thought I would. Through the department, I have made incredible friends and had wonderful experiences like the KCACTF in West Chester, PA or scavenger hunts that we can’t call scavenger hunts because they’re illegal in Pennsylvania.
So to my friends at school and at home, my director in high school, and my piano teacher since I was 8, thank you. You have helped me more than you will ever know, and you all mean the world to me.
Don’t get swallowed by snow!