Me at 20.
She was a very different girl than the nearly 30 year-old I am now. I was in second year at Sheridan College feeling like the underdog, wishing I was better at everything, crying over my ear-training exams and embarrassed over my not-quite-soprano, not-quite-mezzo voice, and wishing my body looked different, moved different, felt different.
I would spend hours pouring over monologues and Shakespeare scenes and avoiding my music theory homework after 13 hours of classes a day, six days a week.
I was determined to prove everyone who thought I wasn't the “music theatre type” very very wrong, so after building my confidence by nailing that monologue in acting class I would then focus on my theory, my ear-training, my vocal exams. I was fighting a battle with my own inner-critic every day. 20 was hard.
But, I think I did most of my 'coming of age' in that year. I traveled to Japan just before my 21st birthday. I got braces. I found yoga. Not mutually exclusive events.
This is when I found out how hard I could work and it became a near addiction. Hard work and a constant battle against my fear of failure, and perfectionism, that often tried to keep me from working hard. I learned how to control my temper and use it as a tool in performance, not a weapon in life. I was broke, on OSAP, eating rainbow bit icing and watching Friends on DVD whenever I could fit it in.
Here's what I would tell my 20 year-old self:
1) It's okay to not know. Ask questions. Lots of questions. Not because you're not smart, but rather quite the opposite. Ask questions because you're intelligent. Not knowing is not a sign of weakness.
2) Smile more. Your crooked smile and teeth (even after almost 24 months of braces) are part of your charm. Let the world see your quirks by seeing and loving them yourself.
2a) Don't mask your heart. Your vulnerable, sensitive heart IS beauty, not the mask you're wearing.
3) DANCE IN THE SHOWER. 'nough said.
4) Love your body for it is the most extraordinary machine you will ever own. Make sure you are only using the best fuel to keep it running well! And breathe deeply. All the time.
Carrie-Lynn Neales is a Toronto based actress who is currently starring as Rose, the leading lady in City’s newest comedy series, Seed. Seed airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on City.