Gretchen Wylder is an actress living her dream in New York City. She has originated multiple roles Off-Broadway and regionally. She is a comedian, free lance writer, and avid disco enthusiast. You can view her work at her website, www.GretchenWylder.com.
Ah college. Those good old days of yesteryear. For me, anyway. If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re knee deep in textbooks and last weekend’s beer pong cups. (Do college students still play beer pong? Is that still a thing?) So, why should you read this? I’m a 30 year old lady which I know must feel like light years from you. But the truth is that I was once in your shoes. Not only that, but it feels like it was last week. So I’m going to share some thoughts with you that I wish someone had told me. Lesson numero uno (I did not study Spanish.): Do what makes your heart race. If there’s something that excites you, DO IT! Whether it be an after-school hobby, a useful skill, or taking a class in something other than your major, just go and do it already. Most of you reading this won’t end up having a job in your chosen major by the time you’re 30. That’s just how it happens. So it’s good to start getting in touch with your intuition and skillset now so that if life throws you through a loop later, you’ll be able to remember that there are things outside of your career that can possibly make you money. Me? I was a theatre major. And now I’m a working actress, which is great! But when in college, I also learned sign language and became a go-go dancer. Why? Cause it sounded like fun. I still use sign language and, no, I am no longer a go-go dancer. But am I glad I had that experience? Hell yes. Plus, it’s a fun conversation starter. (Don’t tell my mom.) Lesson numero doso (told you.): Don’t let anyone, and I mean ANYONE tell you that you can’t do something. And if they do, prove them wrong. Now, I’m not talking about a professor telling you you can’t pass a class unless you turn in work. You really will fail that class. I’m telling you about nay-sayers. And you will come across some. Probably lots. Nay-sayers are people that put you down or bring negativity into your life cause of one simple reason… they’re unhappy. Very, very unhappy. And the only way to make themselves happy is to make sure you’re not. Here’s an example! When I was about to leave for my freshman year of college, my voice teacher asked me, “You’re not studying musical theatre, right? Just plain theatre?” To which I said, “yeah…” And then she said, “Well good. Because you could never have a career in musical theatre. You can’t sing at all.” She’s dead now. HA! Totally kidding. She’s still alive. But here’s the thing… I believed her. For a long time. I let her negative poison into my veins and believed I couldn’t make a living doing musical theatre for a while. Finally, after years of believing this crap, I snapped out of it. I started taking voice lessons and focused on my musicality. The show I’m currently in? A musical. Not only that, but I’m understudying a Tony-award winning actress/singer. My only regret is that I believed that lie my old teacher had told me for far too long. I got a later start on singing than many of my peers. But at least I eventually got started. So, to reiterate my sage advice… do what you feel like you should be doing and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do whatever that doing is. Now get out there and do something!!