Alberto recently wrote about Family. His post has inspired mine.
As I approach the end of my Institutionalized education, I am terrified of the future, but I am also thankful for everyone I have crossed paths with, and I am beyond excited to move into the next stage of my life with two of my best friends, to a city that 150% supports everything I love and want to do.
College has been anything but easy. I remember getting into UF, I also remember getting rejected shortly after. I auditioned as a trombone performance major, got accepted, received close to a full ride, was ready to move back to Florida, and a month later I got a rejection letter into the University itself. What the hell? That can happen? Yes.
My grades were great in high school but I’m a terrible standardized test taker. You’d think coming from a state that does nothing but teach you how to take a test....Anyway, I never took the SAT, and I miserably took the ACT four times.
I wrote a really shitty appeal letter (Which is terribly embarrassing to read now. It will probably do some good in a standup routine) and was told that the school received 20,000 appeals, and I had no hope. My mom made me audition at FSU which was a total abortion, and I just decided that somehow I would get into this damn school.
Eventually the head of the music department walked my appeal over, my trombone professor fought for me, and I got in under the condition that I would take elementary English (AKA learning how to write a sentence) and elementary math (AKA graph making! Look mom I’m a big kid now!)
Being a music major was serious shit. I miss it because I have never experienced that type of discipline in any of the other majors I explored. Every move needed to be planned and scheduled or you were doomed to fail or jump off a cliff. Living, breathing, and studying your craft was the daily motto. The thought of “IS THIS WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO,” came up at least a few times a week.
I clearly remember my music theory two course, we had a temporary professor that semester and he was a genius. Pure genius. He pushed us more than ever. We were lost the majority of the term. No one got an A that semester, and I remember telling him that he made me cry more than anyone, but I loved him for it. I fought hard for a “C” in that course. I remember him saying if I resubmitted three assignments PERFECTLY he would pass me. You bet your ass I stayed up for 18 hours making sure that shit was perfect. I showed up the next morning looking like a homeless person, turned my paper in, and crashed on the couch in the music hall. I was dedicated. I often wonder why I changed my major, sometimes thinking it was a mistake,but without that change I wouldn't have the amazing group of friends that I have now, or the survival skills developed along the way.
Anyone that knows me, knows that I don’t have a good relationship with my mother. I left summer of 8th grade to live with my aunt in Maryland. I hated Florida, I was fat and unhappy, and my moms boyfriend got coked out and tried to attack me one night. Most of my friends were doing hard drugs (yes in middle school) and I really needed a change. I even remember going to a party once, and the kids told me I was “emo” because I didn't want to drink or smoke CRACK with them.
Maryland was a nice change. Crack free. It was challenging going from a very low rated education system to a much much better one, but I was instantly welcomed into the music community and felt at home.
I think I ultimately left the music world due to stress. Living with my mother in college was awful. I had the constant pressure of finding a job, or three, eating off of less than 15$ a week, practicing my instrument 6+ hours a day in addition to taking 8-9 classes, it was just too much. I did everything I could to get out of the house—I became obsessed with working out, and got pretty skinny, but didn’t see it at the time and ended up abusing my body. My form of “dieting” was eating cabbage soup, or taking diet pills or worse. It was a bad environment, and I decided to leave. I showed up with three friends and moved my entire life out of her house in less than an hour.
I met Eric during all of this madness. We met on our birthday (twinzies) because our mutual friends took us to the same hookah café that night. He could have sworn that we would never see eachother again, but being the fruitfly I was becoming…that wasn't an option. He was understanding, and dealt with the crazy that was rubbing off on me, and most importantly smacked me back into reality. He was one of the first friends I ever had that said “Sacha, you are being a bitch and can’t treat people like you have been.” The stress literally transformed my personality and I was turning into someone that I wasn’t, someone I never ever wanted to be. He helped me find who I really was again, and I will never forget that.
I moved in with him, without meeting his roommate Alberto, or Alberto’s parents, but as soon as I met them I fell in love. Alberto really brought a warm happiness to my life, introduced me to his wonderful friends, and his family was the long lost puerto rican family I never knew I needed in my life. He always tells me that I bring out the crazy in him. I would agree. I mean we did in fact dance with pillows to Frank Sinatra one night. We would have long conversations about the friendzone, life, the universe. We would watch movies and cry together because some movies "I just couldn't watch alone."
Who you surround yourself with is extremely important to your well being. I couldn't of asked for better roommates. We are all three completely different people, but really completed eachother. Then of course there was Christa. She has been my everything this year. I think this has been the hardest semester of my life and she has always been there to help me clean up the mess I make of myself. I don't know what I would do without her or my current support system.
Writing all of this has made me realize how much I have been through in college. I fought my way into this school, and will somehow work my way out.
I have successfully dropped too many classes, fought with financial aid on a semesterly basis getting my way, recognized when things were toxic in my life and when I needed to escape, switched into the theater department and developed a wonderful bullshit detector and have learned how to treat people with respect--because if you can't even do that--you are going nowhere. Learned that not everyone will like you and that is okay. Learned that you do not have to like everyone, and that is also okay.
I have learned that it is okay to ask for help, because you can't do everything on your own. I have also learned not to rely on the kindness of other people--because what a stupid thing to do.
I have successfully started my own comedy show, and have SOMEHOW kept it alive, I have overcome a lot of self-hate, have gotten much better at improvisation--something I used to be absolutely horrendous at. I have slowly fixed my posture, have become more aware of my body and habits, have safely and successfully lost about 40 pounds, performed as much as possible, directed twice.
I have traveled the world. I taught in Italy two years in a row, went on a peace and love tour around Norway, met my father's best friend in Russia, experienced unbelievable theater in London and Berlin, watched the World-Cup in Amsterdam, volunteered on a healing garden in Denmark, and have met and kept in touch with some of the most amazing, open-minded individuals in the world. The 50,000 I have in debt doesn't seen that bad anymore, because school has given me these opportunities, that I would not have otherwise. Most importantly, I think I am beginning to understand the difference between Pride and Egotism. I used to think it would be wrong of me to happy about everything I have done here, but I should be impressed and happy dammit! I still have a long way to go, but I am headed in the right direction.
Candice, Ryan, Marissa, Lauren, Katie, Mike, Charlie, Amelia, Megan, Luke, Fernando, Eric, Alberto Christa...I don't know where I would be without you, or your words of encouragement. Probably not here, probably not in a good place--I am so incredibly lucky to have you all in my life. You are my family.
I am incredibly grateful to be where I am. It's been such a life lesson, and challenge to have to support yourself fully through college. There was a point where I had three jobs, or had to donate plasma to get by. It has never been easy, and might not ever be easy. What is easy, is to take the time to stop,breathe, and be thankful for all of the amazing friends in your life.