When I set out to start #BroadwayByJune I had no idea what was in store. I knew that I had a goal I wanted to reach and that I wanted to document my journey to hold myself accountable to reaching that goal, but beyond that I didn’t really know what to expect. If you had asked me one year ago where I thought I would be in June of 2018 I would have said something along the lines of, “hopefully dancing on Broadway and finally living all of my dreams!” Today that is not my reality, but I am so in love with the reality this journey created. I would have never guessed that my perspective on life and my journey would shift so drastically, that my dreams would shift, and that diving into writing would create the most magical of lenses to look at not only my own life, but all the lives surrounding me. No, I am not where I thought I would be one year ago, but oh man am I forever grateful for where this last year has taken me and where I am today.
When #BroadwayByJune was initially created, when it was simply an idea, I was so timid to even begin. To share my life in that way felt scary, overwhelming, and quite daunting. Would anyone actually care what I had to say? Did I have anything to say? Would people think I was just bragging or seeking attention for what was happening in my life? What if I failed? There was such a high level of vulnerability I had to risk by sharing my story, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do that, or if I was brave enough to do that. But, thanks to the incredible support and encouragement of the people I love most, I was reminded that if you want big things for your life you have to risk big. And oh man, am I so grateful I took that risk.
But I am grateful in a way you might not expect. If you look at my journey at face value I am not on Broadway; I didn’t achieve the goal that I set out to achieve. Shouldn’t I be sad and disappointed? Honestly, I did feel a little bit of sadness and disappointment at first. I stated very loudly and very publicly that I was working towards this huge, monumental goal, and then I didn’t get there. But, when I took a step back, as I like to do a lot, I realized (or well, I remembered) that making it to Broadway wasn’t actually the point.
There were two original points. First, I was taking control of my life by not being ashamed or scared of the thing I wanted most. I said out loud, and very definitively, that I wanted this for myself and I was going to go for it. So, in my own way, I took ownership of my life in a way I had never done before by creating focus and intention. I knew that there was a risk of failure, but the point was that I was fully owning this goal and putting my whole entire self into it whether I succeeded or not. Second, I was sharing my journey publicly for whoever wanted to listen: creating accountability for myself, but also sharing in the hopes that my insights and discoveries might be valuable to someone else’s life.
Both points are incredibly important, but the latter is the one that has taught me the most. Vulnerably sharing my story week after week, month after month, has taught me more than I could have ever imagined about strength, courage, humility, connection, and most importantly, authenticity. This is where my deep sense of gratitude lies. I worked incredibly hard to always share and write from a place of truth and honesty, to make sure it was always my voice coming through. I never wanted to be something or someone that I wasn’t. This meant sharing every part of my journey, not just the sunshine and rainbow days, but also the, “I had to give myself a week to watch Netflix before I was ready to jump back into my life again,” days.
These were the harder moments to own and share with all of you. However, the kind words, the thank yous, the messages of ‘oh my god, me too!’ that I received when I shared these types of stories, taught me something crucial. The bad times and the hard times are how we get to the good stuff. All parts of our journey are valid and important, but we spend so much time trying to highlight and get to the ‘perfect’ moments that we forget that it is not only ok, but it is imperative to feel the bad and the low moments too. When we give ourselves permission to not only feel these emotions, but to also talk about and share our experiences with them, they have the ability to connect us in the most miraculous of ways. We begin to realize that we all deal with pain, shame, doubt, guilt, fear, insecurity, etc. It may not be in the exact same way, but we all deal with them. When we see that, we realize that we are not broken and that we are all in this together. It’s simply part of our journey and part of being human.
The amazing thing about this, is that we achieve this level of connection by simply being ourselves in all moments; by always living, sharing, and showing up in our truth and not trying to be something that we aren’t. Over the course of the last year I stumbled into these realizations, and I stumbled into them because I was striving to be me every step of the way. A journey that began with a very narrow focus, me and my journey to Broadway, expanded into a journey of striving to connect to fellow human beings by owning my story and sharing it fully with all of you. I realized how the simple act of honoring and sharing our truest selves has the ability to not only transform our lives, but to connect us unlike anything else. The whole journey became so much bigger than me, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
I have become so passionate about this idea that the thought of stopping simply because June has come and gone was not an option. So I have taken everything I have learned over the past year: my newfound love for writing, and my desire to spread as much love, positivity and magic in the world, and I created a brand new project: Infinity Plus One; a community dedicated to inspiring everyone’s capacity to DO by identifying, confronting, and resolving the challenges that we all face. It is a home for inspiration, support and the knowledge you need to set your inner power free. We will work together to resolve the challenges that we all face, so we can move forward with our lives the way we truly desire. Because, when we learn to accept, embrace, and truly love our true selves - the unique power and light that only you have - truly anything is possible, and by simply being you, you have the power to live the life of your dreams.
There is a website that is being constructed as we speak, and I am SO excited about it. But until that goes live, I have created a channel on the brand new Instagram TV where we will talk about all of this stuff and keep the magic flowing, so we can live our lives the way they deserve to be lived. You can access this channel, see all of my videos, and continue on this journey with me by following me on Instagram @annateresestone. I promise that there will be a lot of love, a lot of positivity, and a lot of silly dance parties!
I would have never imagined that my journey would lead me to the creation of something like this, but I am so happy that it did, and I am so excited to begin this next step of the journey with all of you. Continue to believe in the power and beauty that is you and lets keep creating magic!
Editor: Brian Crawford Scott