A guide to living like you've got all the time in the world (because you do)
By Jen Littlefield (Choreographer/Librettist)
One of my main (and most rewarding) jobs at this moment is as an adjunct professor at Pace University. For the past five years, I have been teaching jazz and theater dance for the Musical Theater department and now, the brand new Commercial Dance Program. I love teaching college kids. This is what they want to do for a living and they work so hard to improve, especially the ones who say:
In addition to the classes and choreography, the rehearsals and shows, the matriculations and graduations, I have one other job whether I want it or not. And that is the all-in-one attentive-listener, advice-giver, and the occasional job-provider. Some would call this a mentor, but I often feel like I've never truly grown up myself, and Lost Boys aren't what you picture when you think, mentor.
But I love this part of my job. For most of my students, it's easy. I just help them talk through the next steps in their path to a show or agent, I coach them through the dance calls they are terrified of, or we just discuss the boy/girl that they love/hate/live with/ sleep with. But for some, as was the case with me, (and maybe even you too), everything isn't so cut and dry, step by step, straight line easy walking. For us, the path to success* is as winding and full of angry trees, flying monkeys, and sleep-inducing poppy fields as that one made of yellow bricks.
For those brave (searching, confused, lost) souls, I've developed a new theory:
The Super-Senior's Guide to Life
You can do a little bit of everything, it just takes a little bit longer
Here's what you do:
*Sometimes the path IS the success
Study Abroad - Take that summer stock gig in Maine. Go on tour (US or abroad). Perform on a cruise ship. Live somewhere else for a while. You may think that you will miss out on that prime class for your major (Broadway show), or that the credits probably won't transfer (Equity points), but you just got extra credit in life experiences (new friends, a new perspective, new you). And you never know, you might actually like living somewhere other than New York (Chicago is amazing).
Change Your Major - Sometimes you want to do something completely different (like get an anthropology degree). Sometimes you learn that you might actually be good at something new (choreography and writing are basically just two ways to tell a story). Sometimes you are at the right place at the right time (the password to direct is: readings). It's like diversifying your portfolio, it can only increase your chances of doing well. It may take more time and your ladder up may look more like a pyramid with a wide foundation, but pyramids are stronger and wider than skinny ladders, they can help break your fall.
Join a Bunch of Extra-Curricular Activities - Take a writing class. Learn how to Tango. Try silks. Get a business degree. Do a yoga teacher-training. Join a book club. Start knitting (then at least you'll have something to do on the train). It's all about the special skills. You always have time to learn something new, you really do. And one of these extra activities might just lead to a change in major, and we all know that is fine, even in your senior year.
Go to All the Parties - yes, even the ones thrown by the Model UN team. If you're going to be around for so long, you have to make friends with everyone, especially the administrators (production crew and stage management). And who doesn't love parties? I know they can be a lot of work, but at least you can hold a colorful and delicious beverage in your hand while you do it.
The point of all of this is to convince those of you (and me) who take the long way around in your life and career, that it is ok. Even super-seniors graduate eventually, and they get the best hugs at the ceremony because everyone knows them so well in the end. It may take a while for us to become experts in a certain field - if we ever do - but along the way, we've picked up a head full of knowledge, a heart full of memories, and a pocket full of sunshine.
JEN LITTLEFIELD is a brand new Crazytown author. She is a freelance choreographer and writer with a few steady teaching gigs at Pace University and Concordia Conservatory. As she's come to discover, freelance is code for constantly working, so she is also a single gal who lives and lives-it-up in Hell's Kitchen. www.jenlittlefield.com
EMAIL HER | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR