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  • Writer's pictureChelsea J

Second Chances

You don't always get second chances.

But sometimes you get extremely lucky and you are sure not to waste a second of it.

If you don't follow me on social media, you may not know that I've spent the past week in sunny and gorgeous Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. And no it wasn't so I could party it up with the SPRING BREAKERS 😎🎉. While I did make it to the pool once during the week, most of my time was spent in the Broward Country for the 58th Annual USITT conference as the returning mentee for the Stage Management Mentor Project.

Now for a little sidebar about SMMP for those who read this blog and may not be ​​familiar with the program. SMMP, in short, is a program that stage managers across the country (and now we have made it Mexico as well- shoutout to Pamela) can apply to be a part of. Anywhere between 12-13 young stage managers are accepted and are then paired up with a leading industry stage manager - from Broadway and Disney to Cirque and live events such as the Super Bowl- to be their mentor. Throughout the week you spend time in private roundtables with the mentees and mentors, attend sessions here and there, but are primarily there to stage manage the conference events.

I was beyond grateful for the opportunity to be selected to be apart of this incredible program last year. However, as I have stated many times and to many different people, I felt as if I held back the first time I was a part of the program. I was intimidated and quiet and at the end of the week felt unsure if I had fully taken advantage of the wonderful opportunity I had been given. So (almost immediately) I knew I wanted to try again and apply for the single returning mentee spot. I wanted to be sure no mentee ever left with the the slightest bit of regret and knew they deserved to be there.

And on my 23rd birthday (the best planning on Cary's part), I was told I was going to get to be a part of this incredible program again. I am beyond thankful for this much needed week of inspiration and love after a tough few months of not being artistically fulfilled. I was able to stage manage the New Products Showcase, be a part of the "Stage Managing as a Student" panel, wrangle John Gruber during tech Olympics, reconnect with old friends and make quite a few new ones, and re-fall in love with what I do. I don't think I'll finish processing this entire week for quite some time, but for now I'm filled with love and gratitude for the this conference, this program, and the people that made it the experience of a lifetime.

To Rose:

Thank you for teaching me the ins and outs of this position. And for being a shoulder to laugh on, cry on, or vent with when I wasn't sure if I was doing anything right. I wouldn't be here without you babe.

To Justin, Meg, and Cody:

I loved having a piece of JMU here at my first conference post- JMU. Much love to all of you and keep kicking butt and taking names at grad school and in DC.

To my Go Round family:

Words cannot describe how much you all mean to me. So glad to be reunited with the family. Not pictured: Czerton, Darcie, and Dan who we did see and hang out with I promise.

To my mentor Ouida:

Thank you for continuing to be a support system throughout this past year. I was so happy to get to see you again and to have a mentor who continues to be there for me with the best advice through thick and thin.

To everyone who worked on New Products showcase (especially Erin and my incredible team of ASM's):

Thanks for making it happen. It was a whirlwind and I think I might have blacked out, but we got it done and I couldn't have done it without such an energetic, optimistic, and intelligent team of people backing me up. I learned SO MUCH about outdoor event management and I cannot wait for the next time I can manage an event outside.

To Team AV:

SMMP loves you back. Plus you rock and you know it. Thanks for not only making sure we had more than two outlets in our room, but for keeping us laughing throughout the week. Can't wait to beat you all at skeeball again next year!

To my fellow mentees: Thank you for being my rocks this week. I have learned just as much as from you all as I hope you learned from me. I hope you laughed as much as you learned, cried just enough, and realized how incredibly special you are. I hope you have not only felt the love from day 1, but realize now that this love will last a lifetime. Thank you for also bombarding my phone with snaps and text so this post SMMP depression is a "little" easier to handle.

To the mentors: Thank you for having faith in us. For letting us flail just enough before we got to fly. For making sure we ate even when our brains wanted to solely focus on the event we had in an hour. For teaching us we were not responsible for content. For not letting us leave the expo floor until we had dropped off at least 3 resumes. For not only mentoring one of us, but all of us.

And finally to Cary:

Thank you for my second chance.

Much love always,

Chelsea 💜


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