50 Shades of Bombing


If there is one thing I have learned to do well, it’s bomb. There have been so many examples, I have decided to only give you the highlight reel.

Coming in at third place is the time I had to play a piano solo for a small school assembly in middle school. I use the term “play” loosely. During the walk of shame back to my classroom, I overheard the upperclassmen ask my brother what was seriously wrong with his sister.

In second place, I once sang for a small church. I had to start the entire song over again becuse it went so badly. Not only that but a man with a cognitive disability in the front row started an epic slow clap for me. You know the kind of applause that builds to a crescendo, typically reserved for sentimental sports movies? Ya, that. It was all for me. After the service when I had finally stopped crying, another man in the audience told me if I had been doing it for Jesus, I wouldn’t have messed up in the first place.

And now we come to the winner: my community theater audition this evening. You may remember earlier this year I decided to wrecklessly “Embrace My Fears.” First of all, who does that? And what does that even mean? Utter and complete foolishness. I think my exact Pollyanna-esque words were, “I am going to embrace my fears head on.”

Says the person who gets run over. By a train. In Germany.

Is it obvious things did not go well? I thought that conquering fears would be all about winning–battling the demons of my limitations and coming out victorious. I have watched enough TED talks to know that this was supposed to end well. Aren’t those that risk supposed to succeed!?! I had been certain that TED himself would ask me to speak at the next conference because of my illustrious success in sheer living.

Needless to say, the audition did not go as I had hoped. It started out…adequately. I didn’t turn into Barbara Streisand like I hoped but at least it reflected my actual nascent abilities.

Then the monologue portion arrived. Ok. I need to sit down. Everyone, take a deep cleansing breath. Do you need a another glass of wine? Ya, me too.

I know some of you right now are not believing my histrionics. You may be having similar reactions as some of the friends I told earlier:

“It couldn’t have been that bad.”
“I’m sure you did better than you think.”
“It couldn’t be any worse, right?”

And really!? Are you trying to jinx me even more?

The people who auditioned before me were…nervous. Ohhh, how I felt for them, in some patronizing unattractive tone. I, on the other hand, had prepared. You see what’s coming, don’t you? Karma was headed straight for me-precision aim.

Yes, I prepared alright. I thought I had come up with some clever little story that still authentically portrayed my life and simultaneously answered the audition prompt. Two lines in, I went blank. Then, instead of thinking of how to recover, I could only think in oxygen-deprived blind panic, “Oh no, this…isn’t…happening.” Note, dear reader, I am NOT the person you should call in an emergency.

It would be bad enough if I told you I stared at my hands for the rest of the monologue…which I did. But no, that’s not the worst part. I literally said the following two lines in the middle of my struggling for any word-ANY word at all in the entire English language:

1. Wow. I’m doing really great up here. Followed by,
2. (Slightly nervous giggling) I’m a really, REALLY great actor.

Do you hear the sarcasm? Yes, that was me DURING the monologue.

The amazing thing about of all of this, and something I almost don’t want to admit, is that I laughed harder tonight than I have in a long time. I called some friends and they laughed and groaned in all of the right places. Maybe tonight was a two-fer. Consider my failure and performance fears “embraced.” Check and check. No, they aren’t conquered but at the very least I looked at them head on. And more importantly, I survived.

Earlier tonight, I considered changing my name and contact info. It was just that mortifying. I blundered in front people I will eventually have to see again…like 10 years from now if I can help it. Still, instead of going down the usual road of self-loathing, I spent the entire evening giggling (the appropriate kind).

Maybe there is something to this looking for change in the fearful corners of my heart. I may never completely overcome these fears and I may never become the next great undiscovered talent, but at the end of it all, I can share a gut-splitting guffaw with friends.

To the kind souls who talked to me in the hallway after the audition trying to console me, to those friends who understand my deep need for self-deprecation, thank you. Tonight was a surprisingly uplifting night. Perhaps bombing has some sparks I rather enjoy.

Well…let’s not get carried away.

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16 thoughts on “50 Shades of Bombing

  1. Nancy says:

    What I love about this post is everyone is reading this remembering an event where they bombed it. As they read, they are remembering the walls closing in, sweat, dry mouth, wanting to cry, wanting to run off the stage. This bombing that you speak of, is universal.

    • ElectroLund says:

      Good point. Boy, I have some doozies. Lately, I’ve been really trying to own my failures. Maybe it’s that life is half over now? There’s too little time to beat myself up on what I can’t do.

      Great piece, Mellie!

      • Melissa says:

        So you plan on dying at 78? Can’t we shoot for at least 84? That would give you three more years before the half way point.

        You’re right though. Why waste time beating ourselves up for supposed failures when we could work on doing better. Try Try Again!

    • Melissa says:

      There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

  2. Sarah says:

    I loved this blog post. In fact, I could hear your voice reading it out loud in my head. Maybe this could be your next monologue! πŸ™‚ Seriously, I am so stinking inspired by you and Project Face Your Fears. Love you, sis!

  3. Shawn says:

    Melissa.. I must tell you I am crawling on the floor with envy. Never in my life have I achieved the cognitive disorder slow clap. This objective has been in my bucket list for many a moon and you in your eleven days of youth have beaten me to the punch.

    My only solace is that I am the one with the cognitive disorder producing that epic slow clap to myself in the mirror.

    Suffice it to say, this does not encapsulate entirely what this post is about. Your beautifully written post is about that moment where you expect chariots of fire or the eye of the tiger to play in the background as you will yourself to the top of the stairs dramatically in triumphant fashion only to trip into that conveniently placed wagon of manure. (Yes Virginia, there are Pennsylvania Dutchmen in Philadelphia) Your words are an inspiration to those that only know these moments of chagrin and none the better. While such moments are inevitable our approach and our attitude towards them is fluid and dependent on our reactions.

    Whether we sulk, throw temper tantrums, or cry foul in a overdone British accent, there remains that moment where we can choose to see the humor of our folly now rather than later and to own it as a badge of honor. Where some may see failure, I relate by seeing nothing but success knowing that the alternative would have been to let the opportunity to experience life pass by with nary a ripple in the peaceful waters.

    Whether its an Olympic caliber dive or a belly flop that makes bystanders cringe at the sight, you’re making waves my friend. You’re making waves.

  4. Gianna says:

    That is too funny! I can see it all! ALL, I tell you! I wish I had been there with you to at least be mortified with you! Because it would have been EPIC! (I’m so lame using the teen word, I know, but that is who I am. Lame)

  5. Melissa,

    I love it, “If you had been doing it for Jesus, you wouldn’t have messed up in the first place” epic, I think you and I have had the same “friends” at some point!! You write just like you talk and that’s what makes it brilliant πŸ™‚

  6. dpwnshift says:

    What a great post! I am 100% certain that I would rather try something and fail at it than not make the attempt at all. And that’s not empty encouragement- I often DON’T try. So you are brave. FOR bombing!

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