Confessions of an RTA Student: My First Weeks in RTA

The day I moved to Toronto it rained. I’m not talking a slight drizzle, I’m talking cats and dogs, Rihanna’s Umbrella music video, The Notebook kissing scene-pouring rain. This provided a perfect example of pathetic fallacy (shout out to the English minor) because I cried for the first week I lived downtown.

While everyone else was busy getting drunk and at frosh, I spent my first week in Toronto scared shitless of my new surroundings, thinking I had made a terrible mistake.

I was plucked from turquoise filled, messy bedroom in my suburban home, and thrown into the land of Drake, brunch restaurants and preachers who scream “Believe” at you on street corners. I didn’t get into residence so I moved into a cute little apartment uptown with a girl I had met only twice prior (who would come to be a great friend), and I was terrified.

Before moving downtown, my mother instilled the fear of god in me I’m hardly from a small town; Brampton’s a pretty big city and in all honesty is probably worse for crime than Toronto. Despite my origins , leaving home came with a multitude of warning from my mom. Her main one being, never, and I repeat, NEVER, have your phone out in public because someone will mug you.

Cut to me walking at Yonge and Dundas days later trying to meet up with my friend from high school, absolutely terrified to check my phone in a public place in fear that someone will pry it from my shaking hands. Do you know how had it is to locate someone in Dundas Square without texting them your exact coordinates? Impossible.

Frosh week was a blur. Not because I was wasted the whole time (I wasn’t), but because I was so caught up in my own world worrying about every little thing, that I forgot to take in my surroundings and enjoy the new people and experiences.

For the first time in my life it was like I was constantly surrounded by thousands of people, but still felt completely alone. This feeling continued into the first week of school, I hadn’t gone to many frosh events so I didn’t make the same friendships that most of my peers had. I went to class alone and hoped for the best.

It was an English class and one of the few friends I had made during frosh week was standing outside the door waving at me. I probably let out an audible sigh of relief. To this day, I really hope she knows what an impact this had on me, even though we don’t talk as much as we used to. I appreciated it.

While frosh week was a blur, I remember my first week as an RTA student as if it were yesterday. Walking into that first audio lecture in complete awe of the massive lecture hall and just how many people there were, all in the exact same position as me. I looked around at the sea of faces around me, people who would soon become my classmates, group members, best friends and hopefully future colleagues.

These were the people I would soon laugh at live tweets during lectures with, cry when our EFP project we’ve worked weeks on suddenly gets erased, pull all-nighters to finish our pitch presentation that we left to the last minute with, and drink a little bit too much with at the TARA after party with. These were now my people.

That very first lecture we had a dance party. Our professor Lori encouraged us all to get up and dance with her. A few people did, but most of us just remained in our seats too embarrassed to get up and join her. I was one of those people.

To this day one of my biggest regrets in RTA is not getting up to dance. I don’t necessarily mean in that particular lecture but in general. I regret all of the chances I didn’t take, all of the clubs I didn’t join, all of the jobs I didn’t apply for and all of the people I didn’t take the time to get to know over the four years. I should have danced.

RTA was an amazing four years. I learned a lot, I met a ton of amazing people and I made memories that I will remember forever, but I think there will always be a part of me that wishes I had stepped out of my bubble a little bit more and danced.



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Learning How to be Sad

Honestly, sometimes I feel so low that I don’t want to leave my bed. I just want to stay under the covers, warm inside the blanket cocoon I’ve created for myself. It’s safe there.

Sometimes I feel so low that all I want to do is listen to sad songs and sulk because today, life just isn’t fair. I turn the music louder.

Sometimes I feel so low that I just want to scream, to release all of this pent-up negativity within me. I scream into my pillow.

But I don’t.

Every time I find myself in that state. I get out of bed. I turn off the music. I stay silent.


I feel guilty. 

I’m not allowed to be sad.  I don’t know how.

I don’t think we’re ever taught to be sad.

We’re told to smile in pictures, smile on stage in our ballet recital, to cheer up.  But never ever are we told to be sad.

We’re supposed to get over things. Negative emotions are the enemy.

We’re told to:

  • cheer up
  • get over it
  • move on
  • calm down

And while these are all sound suggestions I suppose, why can’t we just stay sad for a little while? Don’t we all feel just a bit better after a good cry? It’s cathartic.

Catharsis is a word that lingers in any drama classroom or film class.

Catharsis- The process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

We need that release.

We need to be totally, completely, unapologetically sad.

From a very young age, we’re taught that being happy is what you should strive for. The ultimate goal in life is happiness. There is no room for sadness.

This fixation on happiness pushes all other feelings to the side. It makes you feel as if all the other feelings aren’t valid.

Negative feelings are just as valid as the positive ones. Maybe they’re even more important because they signal something is not right.

Sometimes you just need to be sad. To stay in your bed all day, to eat a tub of ice cream, to bawl your eyes out, to scream.

Life isn’t always perfect and things don’t always go your way.  Life happens and consequently so do emotions.

We should be able to feel what we feel and express that in whatever way we choose without fear of judgment or criticism.

We all know that sometimes it’s simply not as simple as ” cheering up”.

Feelings are not something to be ashamed of or hide. They are a sign you are human.

Obviously, life is about balance.  Shutting yourself off to the world every day and holding yourself up in your room is not healthy either. But somedays,  if you just can’t deal with things, that’s ok too.

This is just a notion that has been at the back of my mind lately that I need to put into words.

Slowly, I’m learning that it’s okay to have feelings. Slowly, I’m learning to be sad.


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Body and Language

It’s amazing the things that stick with you your whole life.

There’s the big stuff. Birthdays, graduations, proms, weddings. Those monumental occasions in your life that you know you’ll never forget.

There are childhood friends you haven’t seen in years, your first-grade teacher and your first crush that you’ve recently crept on facebook to confirm that yes, indeed he is still cute. People that you do, deep down, remember but are hidden behind all the more current people and events in your life.

But there’s also the little things.  Those everyday moments that may seem insignificant at the time, but come flooding back to you when you least expect it.

The good things, and the not so good things.

I have been both blessed and cursed with a great memory. I tend to remember everything. Absolutely everything.

There is a quote by Maya Angelou that goes:

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

I am not fortunate enough to have this be true. I remember the things people have said, the things people have done and exactly how they made me feel.

When I was 11,  I started dance classes. Our studio solid sweaters and sweatpants with “Dance” largely embroidered on the back. I immediately decided I absolutely had to have one.

Are you really a dancer if you don’t wear a tacky sweater to prove it?

After begging my mother for a week, she finally caved and bought me the ill-fitting track pants and matching sweater. I was thrilled.

Even though they were much too big for me, I wore them proudly every chance I got.  One day I was walking down the street and a male friend walked by me. He immediately eyed my pants.

I noticed the look on his face and quickly felt uncomfortable. He shifted his glance away from my pants and back to me.

“Those pants make you look like you have no ass.”

I went home and immediately changed out of the pants because god forbid it look like I have no “ass”, a thought that had never even entered my 11-year-old mind until that moment.

Over-dramatic 11-year-old Meaghen vowed never wore those pants again.

While I don’t hold any grudges at all,  or harbor any negative feelings towards this person, I still remember this moment. It’s been over a decade. We’ve both grown up and moved on.  But it still sticks with me.

This probably seems like a petty childhood story about my preteen angst to most, but it is a lot more than that. At first, I couldn’t figure out why this particular moment in my 22 years of living stuck out like a sore thumb in my childhood memories, but then it dawned on me.

It was the first time I truly felt self-conscious about myself and my body.  The first time I really, truly took notice of how other people perceived me.  The first time I felt ashamed of the way I looked.

Everyone knows being a preteen is tough.  We’ve all heard the speech about how preteens go through a lot of ” changes”  physical and otherwise. But hearing these things sort of comments from your peers brings every tiny thought you’ve ever had about your body to the surface.

The things you say and the words you use are so important. You never really know the lasting impact your words may have on someone.

It has been over ten years and I have grown a lot. Over time I have learned to become more comfortable with myself and my body, but I’m not fully there yet. I really believe one’s relationship with their body is a lifelong journey full of ups and downs.  Of course, there are still things I’d love to change, who doesn’t feel that way sometimes? But one day at a time I’m learning to love myself and my body, but those pants still sit in the back of my closet.


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Home is where the ________ is

Home is a concept I have struggled with over the past couple years.  Moving away from Brampton, the only place I had ever called home for the first eighteen years of my life and starting over in Toronto was a bit of a shock.

Although Toronto isn’t really all that far from Brampton or even that different, it had me a little confused as to where home truly was. Was Toronto now my home because I spent the majority of my time there? Was it Brampton because that’s where I was born? Both? I had no idea.

Going “home” after school meant going to my downtown apartment, but going “home” for the weekend meant something totally different. What and where is home?

Although I’m still not entirely sure four years later, I think I’m starting to get a better idea.

My parents are currently in the process of moving which has brought up all sorts of emotions. I don’t live there and I don’t visit a lot, so it shouldn’t matter if they leave…right?


The last time I moved houses I was in grade one.  It was almost Halloween and that took greater priority in my young life than moving houses did. I don’t remember much else.

I moved into this house when I was just six years old, almost 16 years ago. That is 16 birthdays, 16 Christmases, 16 New Year’s, Halloweens and Thanksgivings spent in that house. It means 16 first days of school and 16 last. 16 years of memories.

If the walls of my house could talk, they’d tell stories of a little girl prancing around in various dance costumes practicing routines, stories of three dogs running around the backyard, and of hockey pucks shot at a worn garage door.  Births, deaths and all of the moments in between. The walls of this house would tell the story of my family.

For the past sixteen years, I’ve walked up the same driveway, slept in the same room, ate breakfast in the same kitchen.  It’s strange to know I won’t be able to do that anymore. ” Going home” will soon mean visiting a house that I don’t recognize.

Due to my sentimental and sometimes over-dramatic nature, I am having a difficult time with the decision to move. This house, although it’s not the only place I’ve lived, is the only place I can truly remember calling my home. Through attempting to cope with this huge change, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the physical house I am attached to.  It is the memories that the house holds.

Home is not a place.

It’s not the city you’re from or a house in the suburbs or a tiny box of an apartment in the financial district.

It is a feeling.

It’s a feeling of familiarity, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of belonging. It’s the memories and emotions a place triggers, rather than the building itself.

Home is the dance studio I spent hours rehearsing in until I was out of breath and covered in bruises.

It’s the Esso gas station where me and my friends would go to get slushies and ice caps every day after school.

Home is forest I walked my neighbour’s dog in every evening and had my not so ideal first kiss in.

It’s the spot by the catwalk where I’d go and watch my friends play hockey, but refuse to participate.

Home is the daycare playground of the school on our street where I’d sit late at night talking with my friends.

It’s my elementary school where I knew everyone by name and everyone knew me.

Home is the drama room in my high school that always seemed to smell like feet.

It’s standing behind the studio cameras at school, rather than in front of them and feeling totally in my element.

Home is my baby blanket, my bed, old photos and old friends.

It’s St. Agnes, Mayfield and Ryerson.

It’s Brampton, Toronto, and Huntsville.

It’s anywhere I’m surrounded by the people and things that I love.

Home is walking into my undisturbed bedroom in Brampton and feeling relieved that some things still stay the same.

In a world that keeps on changing. My house has been my only constant. Friends changed, schools changed, jobs changed, and even I changed, but my house always stayed the same. I’m trying to remember that a house is just a building. It is the memories that make it a home.

I keep telling myself that a house is just a building. It is the memories that make it a home and that’s something that can never be sold and relocated to another city.

Brampton and that house will always own a piece of my heart.

Because home truly is where the heart is.

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What you really learn in drama class

I went to an arts school for drama. Everyday for four years I went to drama class and spent 74 minutes with the most interesting group of people I have ever met. You’d assume I left highschool with a deep understanding of the dramatic arts and the ability to act my way through any situation. Not exactly. The things I took away for the drama program are not what you’d expect, or even what I would have expected 5 years ago when I was just a terrified young niner. This is what you really learn in drama class.


There are many types of people in this world and each one of them, like the Arthur theme song says ‘ everybody has an original point of view’. Those words never rang more true in drama class. Sitting in alpha circle having one of our deep conversations about the afterlife, having people scream at each other, leaving someone, inevitably, in tears at the end, not only makes you more open to other people’s view points, but bonded us in strange and mysterious ways. Don’t agree with someone? Too bad. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The sooner you learn that the better.

Shit happens.

You will forget your lines. You will miss your cues. Your togas will fall off mid performance leaving your entire group tripping over eachother. You will attempt an “interpretive dance” and fail miserably. All of that is ok. Yeah it sucks in the moment and all you may want to do is crawl under a rock, but it the grand scheme of things, it is irrelevant. Years later you really will look back and laugh. I promise.

Show nights are always the best, not matter how rough the road there was.

There is nothing more satisfying in my opinion then show day. The feeling you get knowing you actually accomplished something will never get old. At the end of the day, the long rehearsals, arguments over junior drama night themes and forgotten lines don’t matter. All that matters is that applause and the feeling a job well done, or at least a mediocre job well done.

Life’s tough, get a helmet.

In this world, people are going to tell you no. They will reject you and tear you apart and make you feel like you are two feet tall. Learning to take criticism and handle rejection is an art. Every part in the play I didn’t get, every time my performance was picked apart by a classmate, only made me stronger. In this world, chances are you’ll going to hear a million no’s before finally hearing that one yes.

Drama class holds some of my fondest high school memories. It is the place I met some of my best friends, a place where I laughed until my face hurt and screamed at the top of my lungs; it was the place I called home for four years. I didn’t come out of drama class an oscar winning actress, or even a decent one to be honest, but I did leave a better person.

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+ Positivity

Lately I have finding myself in a bit of a rut. Stress is wreaking havoc on my life and sometimes, honestly, I feel like the stress may never end. In short, I have been pretty negative. I consider myself to be a realist. Where some see a glass half full or half empty, I simply see a glass, which in my opinion is not a necessarily bad thing. But you see, the problem with being a realist is that I often miss out on the small things. The tiny details in life that make it so wonderful, while I’m focusing solely on the big picture. I want to change this. I am so fortunate to live in a place bursting with opportunity and surrounded by so many amazing people. Everywhere I turn there is good, whether I notice it or not. I walk down my street and pass the man who sings to people as they walk by, endlessly smiling. I go to school and I am surrounded by amazing, passionate people who will one day change the face of the media industry. I go to work and I am literally greeted by the most magical, lovely princesses and princes you will ever meet. I am lucky. In spirit of all of the good things in my life, and the fact that I have been posting as much as I had originally hoped, everyday I am going to reflect on here. Reflect on the happenings of my day. Reflect on great memories and opportunities I have been granted. Reflect on the people in my life who deserve more recognition than they receive. Similar to the instagram challenge 100 days of happy, one that I tried and failed at pretty quickly, I am starting my own challenge. 365 days of positivity. Every day, big or little, past or present, I will post something positive. At the end of the year I hope to be able to look back on all the great things that year and see my life in a whole new light. Join my on this journey to a more positive outlook.

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How acting classes changed my life.

This is an essay I wrote a few years back. Though my dreams have changed, the impact these classes had on me stayed the same.

Ever since I was young, I have wanted to be an actress. I would watch my favourite shows on TV and long for the day when I would be able to see myself up on that screen. I’d watch my favourite shows and mimic the actors, repeating all the lines as they were said. I would think to myself, I could definitely do this job, no problem. This dream of mine has continued to grow since then and, this past summer, I took a step towards reaching that dream. I took on-camera acting classes in Toronto that taught me a lot more than just film acting. It taught me about who I really am and the person I want to become.

When I started off the six week session, I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I’d never taken any acting classes that were on-camera before and I didn’t know anyone there. It’s nerve-wracking enough to get up in my drama class at school and put myself out there, but it’s twenty times worse when the rooms full of strange faces and a camera to capture every little mistake. It was terrifying.

Within the first 10 minutes of class we were given a short monologue from a movie to read over once before we were thrown in front of the camera, for judging. I sat in the chairs waiting for my turn to go up. I am a very nervous person on a normal day so, needless to say, I was extremely anxious as my classmates went up without the slightest bit of trouble. It seemed so easy for all of them to do it. Why was I the only one who was terrified?

I fought with myself to achieve the confidence I needed to get up there. I really did not want to mess up and embarrass myself in front of my whole class. My scene needed to be perfect. I was at an established acting school with a good reputation; it was obviously not for amateurs like me. I needed to be perfect, to prove to my teacher and myself that I was good enough to be there.

Finally, it was my turn to go up. I walked slowly up to the mark, my script clenched tightly in my shaking hands. I took a deep breath and began my scene. The words just started to flow out of my mouth naturally, without any hesitation. My teacher smiled, and nodded approvingly, then gave me a few pointers on how to improve my scene. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my best. Plus, I was doing something I loved to do, which was the important thing. I went back to my spot on the large couch at the back of the studio and breathed a sigh of relief. I was proud of myself for having the courage to get up there and perform.

As I sat there watching the other actors go up, I made an important realization. My performance didn’t really matter to anyone else. We weren’t there to sit and judge each other’s acting. We were there because we wanted to improve our acting technique and grow as actors. My best, no matter what that happened to be, was enough. In the following weeks, I continued my classes and continued to do just that: my best. I was growing both as an actress and as a person.

After a few weeks, I no longer felt as if I did not deserve to be there and that I was constantly being judged. Those strange faces from my first day became valued friends and fellow actors. Once I stopped caring about being perfect every single time I went up, I felt less pressured. I felt free just to be myself and have fun. Something that was often stressed in this class was getting in touch with what we were feeling that day and channeling those emotions into whatever the character was feeling. Through this I became a lot more in touch with my emotions and learned how to control them more. Also forcing myself to get up there each week and give my performances my all, despite my nerves, helped me achieve a level of confidence that I never thought I could have in my acting, as well as myself.

These classes weren’t Oscar worthy performances or my gateway to a career as a famous actress, but I surprised myself with how much I grew in such a short time. Really, it was like a wake-up call for me. I realized how much time I had been wasting worrying about everyone judging me that I was missing out on so many opportunities to do something I love. I was missing out on opportunities to let myself go and just be. These classes, ironically, intended to teach me how to effectively be someone else, ended up teaching me how to be myself.

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