Three Little Words From Your Future Self: Brace, Pace, and Grace

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the BlogHer Creators Summit. During one of the panels, TV journalist Julie Chang interviewed former professional boxer Laila Ali. Early in the conversation, Chang asked Ali: “What would you tell the Laila Ali 100 days ago?” This question nagged at me. What would I have told myself 100 days ago?

January 27, 2020

Dear Lauren,

Yesterday was an amazing day. I know you are still on a high from your talkback with the cast of RLT’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. It was an amazing show, right? Sadly, it might be one of the few productions you get to see this year. You know all those season announcements coming down the pike you were looking forward to? Do not get your hopes up.

Brace Yourself

First and foremost, you may want to reassess your definition of live. In fact, you may just want to think of live as live streamed or filmed for the foreseeable future. No need to worry though, because you will still get to see shows from companies like The National Theatre, and even Hamilton on Disney, from the comfort of your own couch. And your annual trip to New York? Canceled. Broadway is paused, shuttered, dark, closed, whatever you want to call it, until January 2021 at the earliest. How do you feel about South Korea?

Pace Yourself

Now, I know, you are probably wondering, what is a theater critic to do if there are no shows to review? Trust me, you may be even busier. In fact, you know that weekly podcast you do? Imagine if it were daily. But you will have to pace yourself. I mean, if you think that daily live chats about the prospect of post-pandemic plays is overwhelming, just wait until you start talking about systemic racism.

Allow Yourself Grace

As you navigate some turbulent times ahead, you will make mistakes, guaranteed. First, for a perfectionist like you, technology is going to test your patience. Zoom is not a perfect platform. Give yourself grace to figure out how technology can work for you. More importantly, while allowing yourself grace means affording yourself some missteps, it does not pardon privilege. Privilege is the bitter but necessary pill you will need to realize before tackling the difficult conversations ahead. Own it. Prepare to pass the microphone and to listen without judgment, question with curiosity, and practice compassion. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint, and every now and then, you will need to catch your breath, recharge, and recommit.

Think of this as an intermission… a bizarre moratorium in which the wait for the women’s restroom seemingly lasts for years.

Sincerely,

Your Future Self

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