Wednesday evenings in Lowell are fast becoming my favorite night of the week. My first year in Lowell, I went home each night, made something quick and easy for dinner, and worked on my dissertation until I could work on my dissertation no more. It was a rewarding but solitary experience.
Upon completing my dissertation, I began a time of transition. I experienced a sense of loss from my academic community. I without a long-term project to fill my time, I felt aimless and without purpose and meaning.
What was a newly minted doctor to do? Why, leave her apartment and create the community she was missing.
During times of transition, transformation may occur.
Ok. Consider yourself forewarned. I do not send the warning as a means of instilling fear. I consider it more of an advisement or a heads up, an FYI of sorts, to be prepared. Transitions and transformations can involve a bit of stormy weather.
I have found that the more open I am to accepting and dancing with what the universe sends my way, the more meaningful and all-encompassing the transformation. This is not to say that the experience is always enjoyable. There can be a bit of emotional roller coaster riding involved.
My most recent performance dance of transformation has been a pretty fun one with only mild discomfort, derived predominantly from forcing myself to stay up late at night on Wednesdays.
I began going to an open mic at a local bar that an acquaintance had mentioned months earlier. At first, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. I mean, I have never been one to hang out at a bar. I only knew one person. Everyone seemed to know and love each other. I was on the outside looking in, as usual.
Little by little, I felt myself come alive. It was as though I had within me a smoldering fire that, when fed just a small amount of oxygen, began to grow. It warmed my inner critic and reached out to the tips of my fingers.
I began meeting regular open mic’ers, musicians, artists, a therapist, and beyond. Strangers became familiar. I was creating the community I had been missing.
I crawled so far out of my shell that I grew to look forward to Wednesday nights above all others in my life in Lowell. By Halloween, I was standing behind the mic singing Joan Jett at the top of my lungs and loving it.
This past week, in response to a comment made in jest, I wound up performing whilst standing atop a chair, trying to sing without laughing. A space that was once foreign had become familiar, a musical home with people I love who fill my spirit each week.
I still struggle with my inner critic—I am not tall enough, my hair is too short and wild, I am cute but not sexy, blah blah blah. But each week, I will get behind the mic and sing like my soul survival depends on it. Because in a way, it does.
Open mic is a meeting of misfits of all kinds, all wonderful, all unique.
“You are a misfit,” an open mic friend told me. I was honored to hear it. In a lifetime of feeling like an anomaly, I feel like I belong in my open mic community.
Thank you, Mill City Misfits!