There I was, back at my old high school, ready to get up and speak about life after school - yes, it's a real thing! - with of course, some musical comedy silliness throughout.
Then right before I was about to stand up, the Principal approached me to say hello and said something that stopped me in my tracks:
"That must have been a really difficult decision to follow your heart into the arts... you must have had a lot of pressure on you to go down the more traditional academic paths."
To my surprise, I actually choked up.
Nobody had every really summed up my experience like this before.
Because here's the thing: at high school, I really was a compulsive over-achiever. I'm talking School Captain, Dux, Interact Club President, OP1, Full Scholarship to University, House Vice-Captain, Drama Trophy, blah blah blah blah blah. I'm not trying to #humblebrag, but rather demonstrate how insanely over-the-top I was when it came to trying to kick every goal out of the park.
So... once I'd LEFT school, if I bumped into anybody who'd known me then, I would feel instant dread the moment they asked what I was up to.
I wasn't blazing through court winning cases on an excellent retainer.
I was burning through cash writing scripts for literally nothing.
I wasn't saving lives through practising medicine to impact thousands.
I was saving cash to practise fringe festival shows for audiences which could be as few as two at a time.
What had I done with all of my glowing high school potential?
I was an embarrassment.
I was a failure.
I am so grateful to my younger self for being bold enough and sometimes just plain pigheaded enough to dare to pursue the road less travelled. But had I known it would take nearly TWENTY-FIVE YEARS to really start to get traction and some semblance of a decent living from it, would I have kept going? I shudder to think.
I've imagined my alternative life paths many times: ones where I've taken up Law or Medicine or... or... and while they would have made many of those post-school catch-up conversations less excruciating at the time, and while they might have looked much better from an outsider's point of view, the truth of it is this.
THOSE are the paths that really WOULD have been a waste of my potential.