Monday, September 12, 2011

The Talent Show

It was my eighth grade year. My best friend Brenda and I were hanging around her house one quiet afternoon. Suddenly we had an idea? We were going to find something for me to do in the talent show. I had no intension of actually trying out.  I couldn't sing.  I couldn't dance.  I wasn't even sure if I HAD a talent.

Brenda joked that I should do something funny.  I thought, okay what exactly would that be? We began throwing out ridiculous ideas, like making up a dance or busting out a rap song.  The idea was to get up in front of the whole school and make a complete fool of myself.
It started as a joke but I decided I was REALLY going to do it! I would act as a nervous ventriloquist, trying too hard to be funny and being way too obvious with the lip movements. It was BRILLIANT! Brenda had this puppet she got from the local amusement park, a monkey we called JoJo. Since I don’t have an actual photo of the little guy I searched for one similar to it, to add a visual for you all.

As the time for tryouts got closer, the anticipation grew.  I was nervous, I was scared, and I was incredibly excited. The day finally came. I walked into that tryout room only to see 100 other students, waiting to share their REAL talents. The intimidation was immense.  I began shaking, palms sweaty, and quietly walked over to find a seat.

The tryouts began. I listened to some amazing singers. I watched some incredible dancers. Then it was my turn. Was I really going to do this? What are people going to think of me?

I was the new girl in school. At least that's what it felt like. That's the way I always felt growing up.  We moved about every 6 months.  I was forced to leave my 6th grade class right before the school year ended. Then put into a new school with barely any time to make friends before graduating to the dreaded junior high.  It was awful! I went from being somewhat popular and having friends, to feeling like the biggest nerd on earth. Seventh grade was pure torture. Eighth grade got a little better. I made some friends, climbed out of my shell a bit and now had plans to perform a comedy skit in front of the entire school.

I walked onto the stage in front of all those students.  I got up there, positioned my puppet on my hand, and began my skit.  I started out a little shaky. It worked out in the end since my character was meant to be nervous.  Picture me as Molly Shannon on SNL playing the nerdy catholic girl trying to talk to one of the basketball players at school.

Before I knew it, I had the whole room laughing. They thought I was funny!!! Their laughter gave me confidence. I began to loosen up and finished my skit feeling grateful I went though with it.

The next day people stopped me in the hall to tell me how much they loved my skit.  One of them happened to be my competition.  His name was Matt. We were both competing for a spot in the comedy segment of the show.  He was really good which made me question my performance.

I couldn't believe the attention I was getting!!! People were actually calling me by name. I was somebody!!! At that point I pretty much thought I had the talent show in the bag.

A week went by.  I was sitting in my 6th period class day dreaming about my debut in the talent show, when I was interrupted by the loud obnoxious beep from the intercom.

This was it!!! They were about to announce the students selected to be in the show.  My heart was pounding. The anticipation was killing me!

I waited...

Then waited some more...

Then it was over. My name was not called.  I sat there for a minute in shock thinking there must be some mistake.

Then reality set in.

I was heart broken. I wanted to cry. I DID cry. I even asked the judges why not! They all loved me, so I thought. They simply said they only had enough time for one comedy act and they chose to go with Matt.

It took me a while to get over it. I felt like I had finally found something that would make me stand out. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be popular.

Life went on and I did get over it. Now I look back at that experience with so much gratitude in my heart. I was proud of myself for taking a risk. Conquering my fear and going for it.  That experience has given me much more than I realized at the time.  Now it means I CAN conquer fear!

I failed.  But did I really?  I learned a great lesson.  I proved that fear cannot hold me back. I have the evidence.

Fear lost its power over me, and what matters is that I tried. We will fail more than we succeed, but each failure leads to an even greater triumph.  A triumph we may not even recognize until years later.

What would you do if fear didn't exist?

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