The Oldest Kid in the Room

In 1995, the summer before my freshmen year of high school, I attended the International Thespian Festival during its first year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Last week, I returned to ITF in its last summer at UNL.

The first and last years.

A dear friend I trained with at The School at Steppenwolf in 2008, Greyce Skinner, taught movement workshops for the young thespians all week, and I had the opportunity to join in on Thursday afternoon.

It was mindfulness and dance and devising exercises.
It was physical character creation.
It was exhausting and exhilarating.

Here is the biggest epiphany from the afternoon: It is a phenomenal gift to not give a damn what anyone else thinks of you.

In a room full of high school students, I was a full two decades older than the oldest student. These young people were clearly aware of each other, measuring each other up, wondering what impression they were making.

I’m 38. I could not care less what any of these kids think of me.

Greyce Skinner and me after three hours of hard-core work.

I moved. I made bold choices. I was able to be fully myself.
I would I’d had that freedom eleven years ago when I was at Steppenwolf, and when I was in undergrad, and when…and when…and when….

Much like walking a tightrope, the ability to stay fully in line with the truth of myself requires balance and focus. I will likely fall back into worry. But I’ve tasted the freedom and long for opportunities to make big, bold choices fully alive in the moment without a care for what judgment looms in the wings.

I don’t know what any of it looked like.
I only know how it felt in my skin.
I want to feel this more often, whether or not I’m the oldest kid in the room.

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