View More:

Calling all pioneers! Calling all rule-breakers, journey-makers, and step-takers. 

You know what it’s like to stand alone.

You have vision to see not only what is, but what can be.

You also know that it hurts when others don’t understand.

I walked into my theatre advisor’s office first semester of freshman year, all shiny-eyed and small, with big plans and a packed tentative schedule, along with my most exciting news: I would be studying abroad next semester in South Africa! I was bursting with the still-fresh word on my letter: accepted.

When I delivered my fabulous news of my over-achieving, dream-chasing, world-traveling to my advisor, she looked me in the eye and said,

“If you study abroad, we’ll never cast you in a single show here.”

The shock of that statement hit me like a freight train.

“Wh-what?” I stammered, freshman fear rising.

“It’s obvious you’re not dedicated to the department. We take that into consideration in casting. You have a choice to make: study abroad or be in shows during your college experience.”

Tears faded the room into kaleidoscopic shapes.

I left her office and immediately called my mom.

I was going to Africa. Not a fiber in my being doubted that.

I had to change my major.

How could my advisor not realize that living and serving in another culture would make me not only a better human, but a better actress?

I didn’t end up changing my major. And I ended up getting a lead both my junior and senior year, and getting nationally nominated for my performances.

And the best part is:

Now theatre majors can study abroad.

The first one through the wall always gets bloody.

The first one to make a change gets burned.

The first one to stand up for what’s right gets bruised.

It’s going to be hard.

But it’s going to be worth it. 

It’s okay not to know where you’re going.

It’s okay to take a break when you're tired.

But it’s not okay to give up.

It’s not okay to not do anything.

It’s not okay to let the doubters' discouragement define you.

What’s meant to be yours will be yours regardless of the naysayers. No one can take that away from you.

So try again today. 

Just for now, let go of how hard it is to battle through.

Instead, think about the first time you knew: you knew what made it all make sense and what brought you joy beyond description and made you think, “yes, this is who I’m meant to be.”

Remember that today. It’s yours: your truth, your momentum, your joy, your secret.

And although we may have nothing to our name, no plans, no accolades, no shiny awards or grand resumés,

We have that truth. 

Let it be enough. Let it be enough to carry you onward, Pioneer.

You can do this.