“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”
“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”

This blog post’s quote brought to you by my re-exploring of my Judy Garland albums in my iTunes playlist. Lately I’ve been revisiting some of my earliest idols, performers who overcame a lot of obstacles and became beloved for being their unique selves, despite how messed up their lives could be. Judy is number 1 on that list, and Wizard of Oz has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember.

Me at age 4, living out my dreams
4-year-old Ashley, living out her dreams

The reason for this theme is that recently I’ve been experiencing the standard, post-college, fast-changing wake-up call that comes with starting to be a responsible adult in the world, and an ever-evolving actor and human being. As I tell my friends, I’m in the “Avenue Q” stage of my life, ever wondering what do you do with a BA in Theatre Performance? What is my life going to be?

Though I’ve had my fair share of existential crises lately, I’ve also had a great amount of success in places I didn’t expect. I’ve started building relationships with casting directors I admire. I’ve been called back several times for different projects. I just finished up a session of Ryan Scott Oliver and Lindsay Mendez’s “Actor Therapy” which not only helped me revamp my audition book TREMENDOUSLY (lord did it need work), but even more importantly started me on my journey to embracing myself fully as an actor and a valuable person. Old friends have been really generous and loving and helpful when I’ve reached out to them. Other friends who I never expected to become close to have become really important in my life now. I’ve made so many new friends going through the same things as me, trying to figure out why the heck we chose this crazy life in the first place. And all of these people have shown me that life is messy and confusing, but they keep on trucking. I see the passion and love and excitement and heartbreak that comes from their lives and how they echo and contrast mine, making us all human.

As I see younger friends of mine go back to school post-graduation, I’m reminded of how totally insane I was only a few years, if not a few months ago. I couldn’t imagine myself outside of that high school or college bubble, let alone doing what I love to do and not being quite as terrible as I had thought I was back then. And even though everything is different – the people, the environment, the structure of my life, the instability (what I wouldn’t give for somebody else to make my schedule for me), and no matter how deathly afraid I am of throwing myself into the future, I’m thrilled to be following my own metaphorical yellow brick road, arm in arm with the most loyal and unlikely of friends as we head towards where we hope to be. Maybe it won’t be anything like how we’ve planned it out in our minds. Maybe there will be evil witches terrifying us before we even get there. Maybe the heart we’re searching for is only a trinket, or the brains only a (very expensive) piece of paper. Regardless, all of our journeys are leading us to our own personal Oz and I couldn’t be luckier to have people who help each other get there.

Most of all I’m learning that our pasts are just as valuable as our futures. We’re all messed up and crazy and wonderfully alive and that’s ok. The struggles and joys we’ve survived are always with us, making us stronger and bring us closer together, so we needn’t worry about where we came from so long as we help each other to keep moving forward.

And after all, there’s no place like home, right?