Opening Up: How Broadway Changed my Life

If I died today….would anyone miss me?

It’s a depressing thought, and yet more common than most people think. Definitely not a thought one would attribute to a person with the name of Joy.

I am a social person, an extrovert. I have always had a lot of friends, was never an outcast and simultaneously, I was always alone. These contradictory feelings didn’t make sense to me and so I ignored them. So long as I didn’t acknowledge this feeling of “alone-ness,” then it wouldn’t exist.

I have written before about my background and only recently starting to discover who I was as a person. Ignoring those things that made me uncomfortable stemmed partially from this background, I’m sure. In retrospect I also believe those thoughts of loneliness had more to do with not being able to be alone with myself. If I wasn’t comfortable on my own, I could never be fully comfortable among friends.

It was almost three years ago that everything changed. Together, Serena and I started this website and embarked on a journey that led to me finding out more about myself in three years, than all my years of school put together. I came to a place that allowed me to open up to those uncomfortable feelings, not just viewing them but also trying to understand them. Broadway has changed me, not just for the better, but for good.

Jersey Boys was the first Broadway show I saw more than once. This was the first click for me, the first step to realizing how much theater had to offer.

Newsies taught me about strength in numbers and never settling for anything less than what you deserve. I learned that you can speak through rhythm and motion and pirouetting on a newspaper.

Rocky is about never giving up on yourself. You are not worthless, no matter your background.

If/Then the idea that every decision you make can have a monumental impact on life and that everyone has the ability to change direction and their future. Watching the show multiple times, it hit me how much my life changed and how it might not have changed, had I never discovered Broadway.

Beautiful was the first step toward realizing the power one woman can have if she has faith in herself and her own two hands. Carole King inspired me to work harder and be stronger and Beautiful is now my favorite Broadway show.

Matilda and School of Rock taught me that personal expression is something worth striving for and is something worthy to be striving for.

Spring Awakening was the catalyst and the climax to my self discovery. It was the impetus for me to reach for more, to want to know more and learn more.

First Date was basically my life on stage with musical numbers.

The Color Purple was the continuation of my journey, started by Carole King, to discovering myself as a woman. It taught me to have pride in myself and my gender.

Kinky Boots cemented for me how important it was to allow for self expression, to allow for indecisiveness and exploration. It showed me how incredible the power of thought and the power of change is.

Dear Evan Hansen brought me full circle. As a story about the lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell the world to avoid being alone, it stands out to me. Broadway found me and I am finally okay being myself and being with myself.

My name is Joy and I don’t wonder anymore what would happen if I died today. I live for tomorrow and I look forward every day to learning more about myself, my friends and what the world has to show me.

Thank you Broadway for changing my life.

by Joy and Chaya

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