“My recent trip to see The Music Man on Broadway (where I was lucky enough to see Hugh Jackman as he left the theater) taught me a very important lesson. It reminded me of the difference between auditioning for and starring in your life.
The Music Man was the very first play I was ever in. I was in 5th grade, we had recently moved, and I was thrilled to discover The Adult Children’s Theater, A.C.T., a local community theater group. But even though I wanted to sing and dance and act more than anything, I was really scared to audition!Luckily, one of my best friends and her brother agreed to a trio, singing I am on my Way from Paint Your Wagon. We practiced for hours, perfecting both the words and the choreography. I sang in the shower, I sang in the car on the way to school, I sat at the piano day after day, belting out my part and going through my moves each night before bed. It was so much fun to just cut loose and perform!
The day of the audition finally arrived. Dressed in our western themed costumes, with painted freckles on our cheeks, we climbed up on stage and waited for the pianist to begin. Although we did a good job, I remember being way more reserved on stage than I had ever been at home. Yes, it helped to have my friends there, but I still felt awkward and insecure.
I was cast in the chorus, which I loved, and over the next nine years I auditioned for many other plays, choirs, dance ensembles, ballet companies, modeling gigs, and pom-pom squads. Because I auditioned so often, I got comfortable with the idea of giving it my all to “prove my worth,” molding myself into somebody else’s idea of who I should be, and even with rejection.
I have a vivid memory of sitting across from an agent and telling her how much I welcomed criticism because it gave me something to strive for. I explained how my ballet training taught me that if someone cared enough to criticize me, then it meant I was good enough to be worth their time to criticize.
What about being worth it simply because you are a human being? What about being enough even if you have no dance potential, are the wrong height or gender and can’t sing, act, or dance your way out of a wet paper bag?
While I understand that auditioning is a way of life in theater and dance and I recognize that try outs for sports, job interviews, standardized tests, and even dating are simply different forms of “the audition,” what would it be like if we stopped internalizing the message that we needed to audition for, and then “be chosen” for anything in our lives?
What if we claimed our worth first, established a baseline of self-acceptance and being “good enough” and used the audition/try-out/interview/test/date as a tool to determine goodness of fit?
Because what I know now, is that criticism is not love. I know that it’s not my job to contort myself into somebody else’s idea of what and who I should be in order to be valued or worthy. I know that I am entitled to be who I am and deserving of the kind of life and relationships that I desire. I know that this is my life, and as such, I get to live it fully. Without feeling like I need to audition for it. After all, I already got the part!
What would it be like if you stopped auditioning for your own life? Whether at home, at work, or in your heart and head, how different would you show up if you knew that you already had the part? That you had already been declared good enough.
Imposter Syndrome would subside. Stress with family, friends or romantic relationships would dissolve because you’d know that you had already been chosen. And most importantly, the ways you’d care for yourself would improve, because you would know that you were the one. The star of the show. The one around which all life revolved. Not in a selfish or egocentric kind of way, but in a deeply worthy kind of way.
So what are you waiting for? You’ve got the part. Now get out there and play it!