When people first meet me, they sometimes find it easy to put me in a neat little box. At first glance I’m a Southern Belle who people know as the face of Distinguished Young Women (learn more at http://distinguishedyw.org), as a well dressed and well behaved girl who follows the rules, loves to sing and values faith, family and service. My project pretty closely reflects what people expect from me—kindness, lighthearted humor, music and a love for little kids and all things magical or Disney. I’m literally wearing a tiara in one of the videos featured in my project. And this is a HUGE part of who I am and of what I value!
But I am also so much more. A professor said to me last week, “You continue to surprise me. There is nothing you can’t do.” To me, this was one of the highest compliments I could ask for. I love surprising people. I love bringing an unexpected edge of sarcasm or experience or ballsiness to the table. I’ve backpacked 120 miles of the Appalachian Trail, pitching my own tent, cooking my own food and forgoing a shower for a week. Last year, I played a role in our fall production, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, that is usually played by a very large African American woman. I have climbed the Great Wall of China, skinny dipped in the middle of the night in a random pond in the mountains and performed in Spanish with the world’s greatest Mariachi group, Mariachi Vargas. I love scotch, hate hot pink, am constantly trying to quit cursing and want to go to law school later in life. Yes, I want to play Cinderella and Christine (from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA). But I also want to play Harper in ANGELS IN AMERICA.
Some of my closest friends often tell me, “Christina, do not let people box you in because they think they know who you are. You have so much more depth than that. What’s exciting is when you allow yourself to be who you are, not who people expect you to be.” This year has actually been a huge awakening for me. I’ve finally let myself break out of the box that others, and in part I, have built for myself. My beliefs and my likes and my dreams have changed and morphed in ways the freshman me would have never imagined and, honestly, would have been afraid of. I’m just beginning to let myself be someone unexpected, someone I’m still learning how to embody without fear or question. To break out of that box and into the endless open spaces is empowering, exhilarating and sometimes scary. I want the writing, photos and moments I choose to feature on my portfolio to reflect that, to reflect the person that I’m just now allowing myself to become.