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.