Once upon a time a stubborn man married a secretly stubborn woman. They had an equally stubborn son. He married a stubborn woman, and all that stubbornness came to fruition in their daughter. No one knew what to do with her. She didn’t know what to do with herself.
Many times throughout her growing up years, she would be faced with an insurmountable obstacle—unable to contain the growing passion inside her soul. Her voice teachers told her that her voice was too big for her undeveloped muscles. She would sob when Deborah Kerr said, “If you can paint, I can walk!” She would giggle hysterically when Hugh Grant said, “Don’t be ridiculous. If you’re going to go out, get a whole box.” She was never busy enough. She went through obsessive compulsive periods of biting her nails, pulling out the hair around her forehead, and plucking out her eyebrows. Later, she developed the bad habit of always needing to be in conversation with someone—hello, texting! And if she wasn’t busy enough, she would create work for herself. Dusting one room could take more than an hour. She would make up rules to break up her day. “Drink a glass of water at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, and 6:00.” “Workout for half an hour at 5:00.” “Write one blog post a day.” “Drink tea at 8:00.” “Create a to-do list each morning.” “Complete the to-do list by 9:00 at night.” And after accomplishing these tasks, she feels like maybe she’s doing something worthwhile with her life . . . because she’s doing something.
But inevitably the moments come when she’s drifting off to sleep late at night that she remembers what she wishes she were doing instead. She remembers how much she loves writing, and the thought paralyzes her that nothing she writes will ever be read. She remembers how much she enjoys becoming another person onstage–feeling what that person feels, knowing what that person knows, and growing as that person grows. And she is paralyzed by the fear of not being good enough, whether in a casting director’s eye or an audience’s. She remembers the thrill that singing gives her, when she can give people pleasure through song. But she will not sing, paralyzed by the fact that there will always be someone criticizing her technique or her style. She willingly gives up the joy of her passions to live quietly with nothing to disappoint her. Your dreams can’t be crushed when you are always awake.
Paralysis is only part of the fear. The other part is panic. No one will ever understand the faintness I feel when I have to audition. No one will ever understand the concentration I exert in remembering how to walk and how to breathe when my name is called. If people notice me at all, they would see a rash break out over my entire body. I am not just talking about nerves; I’m talking about panic. The only way I’ve learned to deal with it is to shut it off by intentionally forgetting whatever has spiked my heart rate. But if I want to give a good audition, I can’t forget what’s going on inside me. The strangest part is that I don’t get nervous when I perform. During a performance, for better or worse, I am what I am and nothing will change me.
All summer people have been pressuring me into auditioning for choir and auditioning for plays. Do I want to be involved in these activities? Yes. But do I want to audition? No. Have I ever learned from an audition? No. Have I ever had a good experience auditioning? No. Do I think auditions have a purpose? Not in my case. Success is all about contacts. I’ve made the contacts already. I give 100 percent in all I do. People either love me or they hate me. I don’t apologize for that. If they don’t like me now, one audition won’t change their minds. If they don’t know me yet, one audition won’t impress them.
And then I sit in a work meeting, sipping my espresso with cocoa powder, and wonder why am I going back to school? and why am I going back to study theater? Why did I promise that I would audition for both choir and plays? Why can’t I find a lucrative hobby that doesn’t freak me out? In short, why am I here?
And then, out of the blue, I am reminded that “I may not be able to save Jerusalem, but I can teach people how to live in Babylon.” My Babylon may be constant failure. My Babylon may be only reaching those in my family. But the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents. I am one sinner who has repented. My God can have all of me, whether any one else wants me or not.