Here is the text of my Love Letter to Myself that I wrote for Villain Theater’s Women in Comedy Event.
I’m Andie Arthur.
Well. I’m not actually Andie Arthur. I’m actually (Actor Name). But tonight I’m reading a letter penned by Andie. As a playwright, Andie is very used to actors presenting thinly veiled versions of herself, normally with other names — such as Louisa, Abigail, Eleanor, Mary, and Death. Yes, most of her plays live in the weird space between Charlotte Bronte and Terry Pratchett.
I’m Andie Arthur and exactly 11 days from now, I’ll be turning 33.
And tonight — I present a love letter from my 32 year old self to the 33 year old self that I’ll be meeting in eleven days.
Dear 33 Year Old Self,
You have made it to the Jesus year. Congratulations.
For those of you who don’t know, the Jesus year means you’re the same age as Jesus when he was crucified. I didn’t know this until I was 22, as I’m a Unitarian Universalist and we only mention Jesus in Church on Christmas and Easter, and even then, only under great duress.
By the time he was 33, Jesus had done most of his major work and was ready to be crucified. At the same age, Alexander Hamilton had written most of the Federalist Papers, and Lin-Manuel Miranda had written most of Hamilton. I hope this doesn’t make you feel too inadequate.
As Dad would say, you just need to write more.
As Lin-Manuel Miranda would say, “Why don’t you write like you’re running out of time?”
It’s a good question.
I know that you feel woefully inadequate most of the time. As a person, you’ve settled into a uncomfortable spinsterhood without ever having had the experience of being in requited love. As a writer — you aren’t nearly as accomplished as many of your classmates from school. As a theatre administrator — you’ve been working with the same organization for almost a decade and it still hasn’t substantially grown its budget. And your theatre company took three years to get to it’s first production — and even that hasn’t happened yet. For someone who expected to be well-established by now, it’s a little disheartening. Specifically as you’re aging out of young adulthood into the weird space known as not-quite middle-aged.
I know that you’ve spent a lot of time holding yourself back due to fear. Fear of being wrong. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not being loveable. I’d like to remind you of something you might have forgotten.
Sixth grade was miserable. As it is for everyone. You felt like you needed to fit in, but you were taller than EVERYONE else, including all of the boys. You had your first experiences of periods and pimples — both of which haunt you to this day. (By the way, Dermatologists — you were really, really wrong. I’m 32 and I still deal with period related breakouts.) Your friends from elementary school seemed to completely turn on you. No matter what you did, you never, ever felt like you would fit in. It was the typical horror show of middle school, but you didn’t know how to deal with it.
The summer between sixth and seventh grade, you made a choice. You decided that you would be the weirdest kid in the school. Actively. Unabashed. Without compromise.
And you were.
In your musical theatre sweatshirts that you wore with leggings — you leaped at the chance to play Christopher Columbus in your school’s mock trial that put him on trial for crimes against humanity. You specifically went out of your way to alienate your Republican classmates by being an active supporter of Bill Clinton. You sang show tunes in the hallways and overacted in readings of plays in class. You created an entire fake radio show about Greek mythology. You read Les Miserables. All of it. Even the Waterloo Chapters. For one year, you were intentionally and completely fearless.
And instead of being bullied or diminished, everyone played along. Yes, Andie was a weirdo. But she was the cool weirdo. Like Gonzo the Great, your favorite Muppet, you were you — passionate about very specific niche things, but also optimistic and hard working and awesome.
Sometime between then and now, the world has worn you down. The pressures of a career in the arts and the various dreams created and broken take their toil. You aren’t the musical theatre Broadway star you had hoped to be. You still haven’t managed to have a crush on someone who isn’t desperately intimidated by you. And a large part of you feels the pressure to be cynical and taper your natural enthusiasm, because it isn’t professional.
Because I know you can be Alexander Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, if not Jesus.
Because seventh grade you was a boundless enthusiast. Seventh grade you was unafraid of tackling massive tomes of French literature. Seventh grade you was excited to play the villain of the story. Seventh grade you was unafraid to go on and on and on about things. Seventh grade you was the version of you that you love best about yourself — optimistic, cheerful, excited about very obscure things and willing to take on impossible tasks.
I know that you’re both completely in awe of Lin-Manuel Miranda and kinda want to be him when you grow up. Because while you couldn’t have written a hip hop musical about Alexander Hamilton, it’s pretty much exactly in your wheelhouse of things you get excited about — American history, social justice, and musical theatre. But in the eyes of seventh grade you — you’re already a grown up — so don’t throw away your shot.
Be an awesome, kick-ass playwright now. Create the theatre you want to see. Create the world you want to see. Because the world needs that kind of boundless enthusiastic energy. Embrace your inner seventh grade self and go out and be the weirdest person you can be. Because really, was seventh grade you all that weird? No. She was, however, that great.
32 Year You.