“We’re no longer capable of drinking our tea in the here and now. Even when the tea is in our mouth, we aren’t conscious of it. We’re drinking our projects, we’re drinking our problems.” - Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power
The past couple months have been a whirlwind of travel: a residency in Nebraska, a workshop in South Carolina, vacation in Northern Ireland. Next week I head to Atlanta for the TYA/USA National Festival & Conference, and next month I head to the TCG Conference in Miami. This trend of lots-o-traveling started last year, and I don’t think it’s going to stop anytime soon. Thankfully, I think I have gotten better at traveling over the past year and a half.
How do I know this? For one, I’m not getting sick (knock on wood) as frequently as I was last year. Last year, it seemed that I either started or ended each trip with some sort of cold or flu. I now believe that some of it was actually allergies. So, what’s changed this year? I started taking immunity-building vitamins. I am committed to using my netipot. I’m careful not to touch my face while in the airplane/airport, and wipe down with face wipes after each flight. I take time to stretch and breathe when I can. I try to check in with myself to know what I need and whether I might be pushing myself too much. I stay hydrated.
I also think last year, I had a very “go-go-go” mentality about it all. And this year, I’m trying to practice steadying my drive. All that needs to be accomplished will be accomplished. I don’t need to be running on all cylinders to get there. So, while the travel itinerary doesn’t seem to be thinning out anytime soon, my approach to it has shifted, helping me feel like I’m in control of my schedule, rather than the other way around.
This weekend, I learned that I am a 2019 Jonathan Larson Grant Finalist. I was among the 25 to make it to the final round of consideration out of an applicant pool of almost 300. So, even though I didn’t actually win the award, learning that I am a Finalist is its own boost of confidence. Because it means that I was seen.
I’ve been applying on and off for this particular grant for about 10 years now. I think in years prior, I applied with a sort of “please notice me” mentality - meek, somewhat apologetic, and really hoping the grant could be something that makes me. But last year, while applying for 2019, I felt different. There was a shift in me. I was no longer applying from a place of lowness, desperately hoping for a launch into the heavens. I was more sure of myself. I knew what I had to offer, and that it was worthwhile for the panelists to consider. And I believe that level of knowing myself helped me write a strong enough application to become a Finalist. I was seen, because I actually believed I was worthy to be seen.
Now, I don’t want to set up a “prosperity gospel” of “If you simply believe it, it will happen!” Over these 10 years, I’ve also worked hard, written lots, made connections, gained skills and momentum. But I am saying that while you’re doing the hard work, if you aren’t fully believing that you’re worthy of it all (and that’s to be read differently than “entitled to it all”), it will bleed out into how you go about seemingly mundane things like grant applications.
Where did my self-assurance come from? Honestly - time. It has taken time to develop and discover both my writing and my identity. To go from apologetically inserting myself into the musical theatre field to proudly claiming my own space within it. Of course, self-doubt persists. It has not been eradicated. But, I’ve learned some life skills to help me sort through those negative feelings and hold myself with kindness. I’m already thinking of how I might update my application for next year. Even if I’m never awarded this particular grant though, I know I’ll be able to carve my own path - the path I need - to be happy.
"I often feel I am trapped inside someone else's imagination, and I must engage my own imagination in order to break free." - Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy