by Kalyn West
Yesterday, I stepped into the recording studio, to begin making our original cast album for The Prom. The energy and excitement in the room was palpable. Unconfined smiles everywhere. Pictures and videos documenting every single moment and detail. Pages of precious music, with copious notes, laid out before us to guide the way. All eyes and ears fixated on our fearless music director. Everyone tuning into the same wavelength beneath that wooden domed ceiling, feeling the magic of what we were doing build. It was a playground - scary and full of possibility.
Reflecting on it, I’ve realized two things.
One, that dreams, like most other things, happen gradually. And two, also like most things, if you don’t slow down to notice the moments as they happen, you might miss them entirely. I’ve been wrapping my head around these truths for a few years now, learning over time just how pervasive and undeniable they are. Yesterday, they began to settle in in a new way and I’m going to attempt to describe the feelings inspired in me.
I have been dreaming of yesterday since I was seventeen years old.
I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah. When I took the plunge and moved to New York in 2013, I did not have many connections. I was going in blind and nervous, but I had this belief that came from somewhere unknown in me that this was what I was meant to do - I just knew it and felt it. So I left everything I knew and started trying to figure out what my life could actually look like. I spent years working in restaurants, working jobs I hated, fumbling around in the audition scene, gaining little to no traction, wondering if I was ever going to feel like I belonged here. That is the utmost nutshell of the last five years, because its an experience I know many people in this industry, in this life, can relate to.
When I moved to the city, I was under no illusions that the road would be easy or that success would come quickly, but I didn’t realize it would take as long as it has. I didn’t realize just how much I would be tested to persevere; to turn every “no” into a “not yet…;” to keep my hope alive. And for much of the while, I didn’t realize that the struggle isn’t the preface to the story. It IS the story. It’s the meat and potatoes. It’s the substance that enhances joy and builds the bones for a healthy perspective.
Again, the utmost nutshell.
I remember having a bit of an emotional breakdown a few years ago, in the wake of several stacked disappointments. My mom asked me over the phone, “Well… do you want to come home?” Something in me instantly snapped back into place and I laughed. “No,” I said. The thought had never even crossed my mind. Zero part of me wanted to give up and call it quits, regardless of how many times I was failing. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was a defining moment. That was a huge part of my journey. It was an affirmation, a conquering and one of my first wins.
I used to think that dreams happen when sparks meet passion, but now I know they happen when you refuse to stop believing in yourself. When you commit and show up every day. Especially when you feel lost, tired, dejected and scared. When you persevere, persevere, persevere.
Now… still here, five years later, I’m walking into a recording studio. I’m finally getting to look my dreams of Broadway in the face, shake their hand, and say, “Hi. I have been waiting a long time to meet you.”