Shalyn Welch

by The Bathtub Project

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Date of Interview: Aug 20, 2018

Name: Shalyn Welch

Age: 24

Pronouns: She/Her and anything nice

How often do you bathe or shower?

Usually once every three days or so. Three days is like, “I got to take a shower now. I got to do that.”

How often would you like to shower?

Probably about that much. Yeah. If it’s a stressful day or week I might hop in the shower a few more times, but I’ve got really into not wasting water when possible. And I’m a pretty clean person, so I don’t really need to any more than that.

If you were an underwater creature, which one would you be?

Turtle, sea turtle. I’ve always actually felt super connected to turtles. I grew up in Florida, so I was swimming my whole life, on top of the fact that I don’t have much of an upper lip. People always told me I look like a turtle. I just kind of like their soft nature but hard demeanor, I guess [laughter]. More on that, maybe. I don’t know.

Do you identify with them because of their physical quality, or because of how they exist?

Kind of both, right? They glide through the water, they catch coasts, but that doesn’t really– things can still affect them, but they’re indestructible and cool, and are in charge of their own– I don’t know, they just seem in charge [laughter]. They can go in when they want. They can come out when they want. They can wade when they want. They can soar when they want. They can have families if they want to have families, but they can also be lone if they want to be lone. Yeah.

Being in charge of your life in that way, is that something that’s important to you?

Definitely. I’ve found, since moving to Chicago and doing my own thing, it’s important to understand that you can control that. You don’t have to give yourself to people all the time. You can take into yourself and take charge of yourself when that’s necessary. But you can also– you don’t have to do that too [laughter]. Yeah.

How is the learning process of figuring that out?

Boy. It’s been a lifelong thing [laughter]. It’s been a constant struggle of not knowing when to protect myself for when it’s good for me versus when I just feel like I always need to. I’m like a crab too [laughter], very hard shell. I spent a lot of my life on the flight-or-fight survival mode-esquen lifestyle, and I’ve lost out on a lot of getting close to people and push people away. I have protected myself from getting too vulnerable with even my family, everyone and moving here and doing everything on my own. I mean, it’s always been that way, but now I’m kind of in a city really far from lots of [laughter] important people. And I found that they can still affect you from afar, so it’s all about you embracing when you’re ready to be affected by other people, when you’re ready to affect other people in that way.

What are you passionate about?

Everything [laughter]. Art. I’m an artist, I’m an actor. Everything it’s art and everything is alive. And I found a lot of passion in that, learning from other people. I’m super passionate about learning from other people, listening to other people. Music. The way people express themselves authentically through art and find themselves, and in certain moments of, I don’t know, glitter and absolution [laughter], people just come alive. And I am passionate about those moments when I can see people who are alive and doing their thing totally unapologetically, and yeah.

When did you first realize how much art affected you?

Super young. Super young. I started with physical art and drawing. I was super into drawing. I was kind of a lone wolf as a kid, I was weird [laughter]. So I would just draw everything I saw and people I saw. And I would after school just sit in my house and draw everything I saw. Which, I guess I started realizing how much other things were important to me and how they were a part of my learning process with who I am as a person in this world. Then I started– I mean, early on, I listened to music– I mean, more times when I was listening to my head, I just always had music on. My CD player was my shit [laughter]. Avril Lavigne’s- Let Go played on repeat until it scratched, and I still listen to it [laughter]. Still have it. Yeah. And it was never-ending from there. Did it in high school, found my way to college, did it in college [laughter], and I’ve just never stopped doing it.

The way that you talk about your involvement with others. What are your thoughts on relationships with outside people and within yourself?

It’s always back to the turtle [laughter]. The last few years, I really developed strong social anxiety, which is odd because most people tell me I’m very charismatic, and my best friends would say that it’s so shocking that I have such strong social anxiety [laughter]. Even talking about it makes me nervous. I struggled for a long time just talking with people I didn’t know, even though I knew that was something I needed to do, I loved it so much, I loved hearing about people and learning from them, but anytime the questions came back to me, my voice would start to shake and I’d find a way out. And that was it for a while. And then I started therapy [laughter]. And I’m in a business that makes me talk to other people, and I got sick of being scared, so I really just dove head first into getting to know people and letting people get to know me in reverse. And I’ve really garnered some really fantastic friendships that have changed my life [laughter], which is so great because I really struggle with my familial relationships. They’re not the best [laughter]. My romantic relationships are really difficult [laughter]. One year’s usually my cap [laughter]. I am working on them in a grand scheme of things. I’m very comfortable as a lone wolf and I often joke about that, but I get really– I struggle with depression, so I have to be around other people because they would bring me joy. Yeah.

What do you feel most accomplished with?

It’s hard not to say today. Every day that I wake up and– I’m relatively– been 100% self-sufficient since I was like– we’ll say like 95% self-sufficient from starting age 16 or so, through now I’m totally in 100. And I’ve looked back on that and, I don’t know, for a while I didn’t really see it. I was like, “Whatever. Everyone has to grow up and do their thing. And if you want things to happen, you got to make it yourself.” And now I’m like, “No, no, no [laughter]. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can have other people in your life and they help you too.” And I’m just so proud of the fact that I’ve gotten myself to this point where I can accept other people and myself more than I have. And I’ve done a lot. I’ve put myself through college, I got myself here, I’ve been employed as an actor a few times relatively graciously, and other things to be proud of. And for so long I’ve struggled with recognizing that those are things to be proud of. And I’m finally there [laughter]. It’s great.

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