“I can tell you’re not professional.” The Words Said to Me This Week

“I can tell you’re not professional.”

A real statement made to me while I was directing my first play (well, staged reading). When they said it, I nervous laughed and changed the subject but it really has been bothering me. The statement came from someone who doesn’t know me and had literally just met me.

So, I began thinking, what would make me a professional and more importantly, what about me isn’t professional.

The rehearsal this was said at was located at a beautiful facility.

The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts

The cast were all trained professionals, and incredibly talented.

Ari Veach, Gaia Visnar, Sabastian Zeqharr, Broghanne Jessamine

The reading was being held at a highly sought after location.

It was being produced by Elemental Women Productions, and full fledged production company (shout out to my homegirl, Broghanne Jessamine).

We had an incredible turn out. And not only that, they we’re a super supportive crowd.

Sabastian Zeqharr, Broghanne Jessamine

The crowd even asked questions at the talk back after the show!

Broghanne Jessamine, Charlotte Giles, Me

I had done my work as a directing in and out of rehearsal.

So, how could I be not professional? This person also asked what I did besides this and I said “bartender.” And that was it, the label that stuck to me. As if bartending is bad job, or the people who do it aren’t serious. Some of the hardest working people I know are bartenders, the hours are long, guests are rude, and overall all customer service jobs are emotionally exhausting.

It’s been a little over a week since I was told I’m not professional and I think I finally know how I feel about it.

F*** that.

Being a professional isn’t about how much money you make or time you can give, its about passion. If you are an artist, and make art, guess what? You’re a professional.

Professionalism is an attitude. And I’ve got plenty of attitude! So, it doesn’t matter if you have a ‘survival job’ or you can work in your desired field all the time, you are still a professional.

Moral of The Story: don’t let other people’s negativity make you feel down or put you in a box. No one can label you without your permission. So, make your own labels! Here are mine right now!

Mikayla Labels As Defined by the Only Person’s Opinion that Matters (Her Own):

    Strong
    Witty
    Creative
    Rebellious
    Opinionated
    Smart
    Accepting
    PROFESSIONAL

What Pride Means to Me: A Love Letter to Equality

What does it mean to be LGBTQ? What does it mean to be in the community? Is there such a thing as ‘not queer enough?’ Is there a certain quota you have to hit be accepted?

What do you do if you feel like you don’t belong to the ‘straight’ or the ‘gay’ crowd? Where do you belong.

This was something I really struggled with. I knew since I was 13 that I wasn’t fully straight. I didn’t know what to really do about it. We had one bisexual student in our tiny town and she was mocked for being an ‘attention whore.’

So, that’s what sexuality became to me. You were straight, gay, or an attention whore. No grey area, no other categories.

I kept to myself. I mentally shamed men and women who proclaimed bisexuality. I had a friend when I first moved to NYC who told me she was bisexual but she had a long term relationship with a man. So, I wrote her off.

My defense mechanism was cold. Everyone needed to fit into the two boxes my upbringing gave me.

This all changed when I met a very special man, Jimmy. He loved me for me, even my grey areas. He told me I was loved and accepted. And through our love, I emerged (slowly). I’m incredibly grateful for his acceptance.

From there I was able to open up to the people closest to me. This led to me starting a new job and telling them from the start who I am. I was like a frog warming up to the water! My close friends didn’t think it was crazy and my new coworkers were “oh okay. Cool.”

Now, I’m the most me that I’ve ever been! I’ve changed so much over my time in NYC. I wish I could go back and erase every hateful thought I’ve had but I can’t. Instead I have to share my journey to accepting others and myself. If you’re reading this and relate, it’s okay. We can change and heal together.

Moral of the story: sexuality is a spectrum and a journey. Life isn’t black and white and people’s emotions certainly are not. Love each other. Accept each other.

-Mikayla Olivia Orrson