I have never connected more with a piece of theatre than I have with Dear Evan Hansen. That’s probably why it’s so difficult for me to articulate what I love about it, as doing so means being intimately vulnerable and revealing a part of me that’s usually hidden.
I also never feel like my words capture how deeply Dear Evan Hansen has changed my life, or how Evan Hansen as a character has taught me countless things about myself. My endless gushing about the show to my friends may wear itself into redundancy, but I think it goes back to one of the central themes of the show: wanting to be seen, known, and understood by the ones you love.
Because of how closely I identify with the story, I use it as a vessel. By talking about it, it becomes a way to get my loved ones to understand where I’ve come from and where I am now, what struggles I’m facing. I want to be heard. I want people to understand me and to see me for who I really am, not just who I appear to be. And I use Evan’s story as a catalyst, a way to talk about my experiences and express myself.
I’ve been with the show since its world premiere in Washington, D.C. a year and a half ago, and this weekend I finally saw Dear Evan Hansen make a bow on Broadway. It meant the world to me to see a both story and a message that I hold so dear affecting the thousand other people in the audience just as much as it has affected me.
I’ve learned many things from Dear Evan Hansen. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s lyrics and Steven Levenson’s words say everything I can’t, so in sharing my lessons from Dear Evan Hansen, I’m going to use their words to help me find mine. Here are six things I’ve learned from Dear Evan Hansen.
Today’s going to be a great day.
No matter how bleak life can—and will—get, there is always a reason to push through, a reason today will be great, which is what we need to remind ourselves of every morning. Whether it’s because you get to enjoy a steaming cup of tea or because the sun is shining, there is always something to hold on to, no matter how small. As Evan explains in his opening monologue, he’s going to have a great day because all he has to be is himself—his authentic, broken self—and that’s enough.
No one deserves to be forgotten.
It’s so easy to feel as if the world is just passing you by, like everyone is going so fast that they don’t take the time to stop and notice you. But you are important. Even if you feel like you’re not doing anything extraordinary, you still matter. Everyone matters. Whether you realize it or not, you are making a difference with your life and you won’t be forgotten.
Just keep going until you see the sun.
Things will get dark. You may feel lost, lonely, and isolated–but it won’t be the end. There is a light, and if you just keep going, soon it will shine down on you. There is no correct path to take to find it, and there are no wrong turns. So just keep going until all you see is light, because that day will come.
You have a voice and can make a difference.
In the show, Evan starts a movement. He shares his experiences and turns his pain into something that helps and empowers others, giving strength and hope to those who have none. And you can, too. All it takes is speaking up and letting your voice be heard. You are not alone, and by sharing your story you will change the lives of others.
Real, human connections are vital.
But they’re also incredibly difficult to form and maintain in an age of social media, where everyone is constantly hyperconnected in a very inauthentic, detached way. This weekend, while I was sobbing during the act one finale of Dear Evan Hansen, the woman next to me put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. Once the intermission lights came up, we spoke and shared our feelings by being open and being ourselves. This is just one of the real, genuine connections that this show is made for.
You will be found.
If you don’t learn anything else from Dear Evan Hansen, I want you to learn this: that you will be found. And I want you to not only learn, but know, understand, and believe it to be true. Because no matter how lost and lonely you are, you will be found. Just give it time. It may not be next month or even next year, but it will happen. And in being found by others, you will find yourself, which may be the most important lesson of all.
Dear Evan Hansen is running at the Music Box Theatre in New York, 239 W 45th St. Tickets and more information can be found at dearevanhansen.com.
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