The Fictitious Rock Bottom

“I’ve hit rock bottom.” It’s a phrase we toss around often when life isn’t going the way we planned. It’s also a phrase I’ve used quite frequently to describe my struggles, especially those in college that made me feel like I’d never make it out in one piece. 

Thursday, April 4th, 2019.

Junior year I became president of Carolina Tap Ensemble. We faced our fair share of obstacles and challenges throughout the year, but nothing had exactly prepared me for the battle ahead. 

It was the day of our annual showcase, a day I had long awaited since I stepped into my role as president. Everything was perfectly in place. Our music and lighting was set, costumes were ready to go, and for the first time in company history, tickets were nearly sold out. We were diligently installing our marley flooring when suddenly the space went completely black. 

A power outage. It’s all fine, certainly not ideal, but definitely going to be okay. I encouraged everyone to pull out their phone flashlights and carry on so we could stick to our strict schedule. 

Precisely 25 minutes later, the power was still out and our events operations manager pulled me aside. She explained that for safety measures, if a power outage lasts more than 30 minutes, the building would immediately be evacuated and shut down for the remainder of the day.

Given that we booked this space in August, it seemed impossible to find an alternative. Five minutes passed and we were forced to evacuate. I tried to pull myself together enough to face my company, but all that came out were streaming, hot tears. That was rock bottom. 

We ended up being able to host our show at a nearby venue that happened to have availability. By the time we transferred everything, we had little time to practice. Still, we pulled together a show in extremely unpredictable circumstances. 

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020. 

Flash forward exactly one year and I have the honor of serving as president a second year, this time planning my final CTap showcase. In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, events were being cancelled left and right. I held on to the hope that we could do our show with no audience and a livestream. But when UNC formally closed campus and encouraged residents to move out, we were left with no other option but to cancel. 

College survival tip #15: Things can always get worse. It’s hard to realize that in the moment, but learning to roll with the punches and taking what you can get will go a long way. 

Last year’s struggles seem so insignificant compared to this year’s situation. While the power outage was certainly a tough dilemma, at the time, it felt like the worst case scenario. At the end of the day, we still got to host a show, perform with each other, and make memories to last a lifetime. 

And frankly, this year’s situation probably isn’t ‘rock bottom’ either. Despite the outcome, we had an amazing year of tapping with each other in rehearsals and accomplished great new things, such as attending our first ever competition! 

So what exactly is rock bottom? 

From the way I look at it, there truly is no ‘rock bottom’. It’s just an excuse to bring out our inner pessimists and mope about the things going wrong in our life, when in reality, there’s probably a lot going right that we’re closing ourselves off from noticing. 

I’m not saying we have to be happy-go-lucky optimists 24/7, but the phrase ‘I’ve hit rock bottom’ certainly doesn’t help. With that, I’m challenging myself to ditch the phrase and start searching for the things going right, especially in times like these.