I’ve been sitting on these words for a few months now. Editing, fine tuning and procrastinating. Not quite ready to hit publish. Because it’s hard to share a story of bravery, when the outcome was actually… failure.
But first my friends, I need to go back a bit. Because I need to tell you about the young girl who throughout her entire schooling life loved to perform. Being on stage was my happy place. The space I would go, I suppose, to feel most like myself. Which is odd when you’re up there playing other characters. But up on stage, I didn’t care about what people thought of me. I felt brave. I felt bright and shiny and filled with purpose.
Musical theatre was so much of who I was growing up. And singing has always been one of my favourite things. It still is one of my favourite things. Belting out a show tune or an epic power ballad immediately elevates my mood. It’s a tonic for my soul.
As a young girl, I believed that performing would be what I fiercely pursued when I had finished school. However young adult life beckoned, my dreams of being on the stage were pushed to the side, and my thoughts became occupied with boys, and parties, and travel. A short while later came motherhood, life went on.
Over the years I caught glimpses of that girl who loved to be on the stage. When I would sing loudly in the car to myself, when I was ever given a microphone at a party after a little liquid courage (if you give it to me in that situation, it’s unlikely you’ll get it back), or when I would dance and sing to Hi-5 and the Wiggles when our kids were younger, but mostly, the desire I once had to perform was a long forgotten pastime that I had stored under “things I never pursued” in my memory bank.
Until last year.
With our children being older, I wondered if maybe, just maybe I could audition for a local musical. Maybe.
Part of me want to see if I still had it. That fire. That passion. That confidence. Part of me wanted to feel that joy of being up on stage again. And another part of me wanted to prove to myself that I could actually be brave and step outside of my comfort zone after all these years.
So I did it. Earlier this year, I auditioned for a musical.
I saw a local theatre production, booked my audition date, and then devoted myself to learning my two songs (Wouldn’t it be lovely from My Fair Lady, and what I did for love from A Chorus Line).
My husband was the only person I told.
I want to share with you this video that I filmed just before walking in.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I’d actually never auditioned for a musical since school. I walked into a room, and there were about 5 or 6 people sitting at table, just waiting for me to sing. Daunting.
I did my bit. My voice was a little shaky, but I thought I actually did well. Then they said thank you, and I was ushered out of the room.
For a people pleaser/control freak like me, that is hard. They didn’t even tell me when I might hear anything.
But… I felt ALIVE as I walked out. It felt exhilarating to not only sing again in front of people, but to do something so fucking brave. I was buzzing.
This was me afterwards. Something told me to record myself before and after. I’m so glad I did!
Then I waited. Not patiently either. I had no idea if I would hear anything, when I would hear it, or how I would hear it. Naturally, I feverishly checked my phone, email and spam folders many, many times over the coming days.
Finally, I received a text message saying that I’d been invited for a call back. A call back!! That felt good! To me, it meant I was ok! There was no need to prepare anything this time, it was a “movement audition” (which I had to google). But it meant dancing. Dancing.
My dance repertoire these days consists of Mum dancing. A little awkward shuffle. That’s it.
I went along to the call back, and despite not feeling super confident, I had fun. Maybe I wasn’t the best dancer, but I could find the beat, and I knew I was an ok singer. It was fun to give it a go, and interact with the other people at the call back too.
But what I also learnt is that local theatre isn’t like a school musical. Amateur, yes. But also kind of professional. These people had serious talent. I was there to “give it a go”, whereas I could see that most of the others were there because they had serious goals they wished to reach.
A few days later (after more refreshing of emails, and checking my phone was online), I received a text message to say that unfortunately I hadn’t been successful.
BOOM. It hit me right in the chest. Naturally, I burst into tears. Maybe this meant more to me than I was letting on? Immediately my mind was flooded with thoughts of failure. See? You shouldn’t of done it. Who are you to think you could still sing on stage! Thank goodness we didn’t tell anyone, because this is embarrassing.
The outcome of my audition actually isn’t what this story is about. It’s the bravery that is important here, and what came next.
It took me a few days (ok, well over a week) to move past my embarrassment/failure/hurt, but when I did, I could see that the most important thing in all of this is that I DID IT.
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. That there is a lesson in everything.
Perhaps this was to teach me that it’s actually not my dream anymore (being “successful” in my audition would have taken me away from my family, and given me a next to nothing social life for several months – two things that are really important to me).
Perhaps it is my dream and I’m being invited to really work for it and this just wasn’t the right time.
I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ll ever know. But what I do know is that I can do brave, scary things. I can put myself out there. I can push through that sick feeling and back myself. I can fail, and still live to tell the tale. ‘Successful’ or not, I can be courageous. And that courage, has taken me somewhere else.
Whilst I expected this experience to reignite my passion for the stage, it actually gave me crystal clear clarity around what I now wholeheartedly know is “my thing”.
I still love singing. I always have, and I always will. Maybe I’ll audition for another musical one day. Maybe not. But what I really love, what I feel lit up and inspired by is writing.
I’ve declared my love of writing before. Yet it’s easy to say (or write) words of declaration. It’s less easy to take action on them. I have always loved writing.
Writing is the one thing that has consistently and affectionally tapped me on the shoulder throughout my entire life.
Writing graciously stepped aside whilst I feverishly partied my way through my early 20s – yet was always there in my journal. Writing sat beside me as I waded my way though early motherhood and started my first blog. And writing has quietly stuck around as I followed curiosities whilst becoming the woman I am today.
Writing has always been my determined sidekick. Always devoted to me, even when I wasn’t ready to fully commit to it. The ever-patient understudy waiting in the wings for me to finally allow it to take centre stage in a lead role.
After the audition-failure-come-down-week, I realised it was now writing’s time to shine. And I have written consistently (and joyfully) almost every single day since then.
My bravery took me somewhere unexpected. It took me somewhere better. I walked away from this “failure” finally accepting that I am, in fact, a writer. And I have actually been doing, rather than just talking about doing.
I have bottled this brave feeling, and I tap into it every time I sit down at my desk. I am backing myself. And I will continue to back myself in this. Because whilst it’s often the hardest thing in the world for me to do, not doing it actually now feels harder.
By allowing writing to take centre stage, and by doing the hard things, I am opening up doors that feel more aligned to me than a curtain being raised at the start of a show ever did.
This bravery, and subsequent failure, has ended up being one of the most exciting turning points of my adult life.
Even if you go for it and it doesn’t work out, you still win. You still had the guts enough to head straight into something that frightened you. That type of bravery will take you places.– The Better Man Project