It all started because I was afraid.
It all started because I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I can do it. I didn’t think that it was possible.
I moved to New York City in June 2013. I had a vision, a dream to be a Broadway star. I moved from Japan at age of 19. After spending almost 10 years in Los Angeles, my friends started telling me “Are you just saying you’re going to NY? Or are you really going?” I am fortunate enough to have amazing friends who believe in me. When you have friends like that, we should really be grateful and don’t take it for granted. Friends who can have a tough conversation, who would hold you to your visions and dreams, not only for temporary relief.
I did what every struggling artist in NY do. I worked at restaurants, manage a lot of side hustles, took acting/singing/audition classes… I loved my acting classes, till I didn’t.
After a while, my classmates started booking gigs, getting representations, being noticed in the community… making a huge growth. I felt left alone.
Every time my teacher told me to do the scene in Japanese, my native language, I thought that was because my English wasn’t good enough. Later she told me that that was all because my natural instinct/response would come from my roots, Japanese culture, which made sense. Yet, I felt like I was the only person who wasn’t going anywhere.
I am Asian, I look freakishly young for my age, I am 4’10”, I am not from America… many reasons that I could come up why I wasn’t “MAKING IT”. I started dragging myself to acting class.
It was also around that time my long term relationship ended. My ex and I were together for over a decade. He was my first relationship. He was my first love. We even moved from LA together. When it didn’t work out, I felt like a complete failure.
Even though we weren’t married, it felt like a divorce. I was also too ashamed to share this fact with my friends and my family. I didn’t tell ANYONE for over a year.
I bet people sensed that it wasn’t the same. But since we were still living together, I did my best to keep that to myself. Nobody needs to know. Nobody can know. I don’t want anybody to know that we weren’t together.
While I hid behind make-belief authenticity and positivity on social media, or rather say social media people pleasing, I was dying to find out who I was and what I wanted. I was completely lost.
In a way, that’s how I was holding on to my sanity. Fake it till you make it. If I can fake it long enough, I would be positive all the time. I would be a good person. I felt like if I didn’t post those things, I would fall apart. And I didn’t want to lose myself.
Trying to find out “What I truly want” was something I started paying attention to. Whenever people asked me “What do you want?”, my response was “I don’t know”. Believe it or not, being able to find out what I wanted to eat was a tough question for me because I began emotional eating again. I was afraid of not working out.
Although I wasn’t purging all the time, I would consume an entire bag of chips or cookies, a whole tub of ice cream, or sometimes, a half the jar of peanut butter… When I wasn’t around people, my ups and downs were so drastically different. So many dark thoughts floated in my head. When my friend shared the article about “People with High function anxiety disorder”, out of 11 categories, I matched 10 of them…
Before I keep going, I just want to share this is article is not how messed up I was and now, I’m all fixed. That’s not what I want to share. On the surface, it probably looked like I had it all together all along or at least, I tried my very best to appear that way. Just because someone looks strong and as if they have it all together, it doesn’t mean that they really do.
Most of the time, they are waiting for someone to notice how sad or lonely they are. When people do notice something is off and ask us “Are you ok?”, the answer would most likely be “yes, I’m great”. And it doesn’t mean that we are. We just don’t know how to ask for help and have “I’m great! How is everything with you?” as an automatic response. As a coping mechanism, we deflect and turn the conversation around because talking about the “truth” means an end of an era. That our image of a “positive” person will be gone… and we are terrified of that.
No one has it all together all the time. We are all doing our best to fit in wherever we are. We find our purpose in helping others, fixing others’ problem so that we can feel like we are worth something. Even though it looks like we have tons of friends, we usually don’t feel like we belong anywhere. And we want to belong and connect so badly. At least, I was craving for that belonging…
I stopped auditioning and going to acting classes in the summer of 2016. I still remember the relief I felt when I left the acting class. This was the time I started on my healing journey. I found Essential Oils… actually they found me and it has changed my entire life. I am forever grateful for these oils and people I am meeting ever since.
I got certified in teaching Chakra Yoga, leading meditation and practice Reiki. I joined a Momentum Education program, studied a lot of personal development courses and books. A Course In Miracles is my favorite.
Surprisingly, after I stopped auditioning, I started doing more gigs. Friends offered me parts in their projects, I co-produced and directed my first short film. I started taking headshots for people again. I produced my very first cabaret, which led me to a producer call for my dream show on Broadway, “Miss Saigon”. I was able to enjoy myself more in the process and I was asked to stay after I sang.
I learned to receive support and co-creating with the Universe.
I finally learned that in order for me to do anything, I needed to heal myself first.
Not only intellectually understanding but feeling it. I started living a little bit more rather than just surviving in tunnel vision.
In Fall 2017, I finally decided to do my solo show after the long hiatus. I wanted to sing again. My friend Karin helped me secure a venue. I had a place, an accompanist, people were waiting for it… but I honestly didn’t think that I was going to fill the whole entire space with the audience.
How is it possible to fill this entire venue? Why would anyone want to come to see me sing? I am nobody…
I invited my friends to come and perform with me. That way, I wouldn’t have humiliated myself for not creating a “GOOD” event. They can bring their friends and I wouldn’t feel like a complete loser. That’s how it all started. It all started because I really didn’t think I was able to pull this off myself. And what happened was beautiful and so much more than what I expected
When I saw the audience, it was filled with people from all different areas of my life: the Yoga community, Holistic community, Acting community, Asian Community… They were all from a different age, race, gender, sexual preference, beliefs, and so on. And they were connecting! They were talking about art, life, and what they want to create together. An overwhelming amount of joy flood into my soul.
This is the world I wanted to create.
Yuko Kudo is a Japanese native, Artist (Singer by default), Community Builder, Social Entrepreneur, a founder of “I AM” Series. She uses art to create community and bring healing to the world, raising awareness for social justice, mental wellness, diversity, and inclusions. She is also passionate about educating artists to live in abundance and freedom, be a thriving artist. C