“This is so stupid! I don’t even want to be here!”
Despite the slight lisp caused by my braces, I spoke with all the angst a high school senior could muster. The place from which I sounded so desperate to escape was an audition for my high school’s production of The Music Man. Before my mirror at home, I played a fine Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn (though, realistically, I expected to have a better chance as one of the “pick a little, talk a little” ladies). But in a large room surrounded by my peers, the only emotion I could produce was fear. That being socially unacceptable as an American teen, I promptly drowned it with a thick layer of disdain. My comment was not meant to be heard or, if so, only by my closest friend sitting next to me. However, immediate eye contact with the teacher confirmed she had heard it as well.
I was not Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn my senior year. My good friend stole the show with that role; and she was superb! Neither was I one of her chatty friends, nor even a towns person. I may be wrong; but the way I remember it, I was the only member of the senior class who auditioned but did not get a single part, speaking or otherwise.
And I knew exactly why.
I have often wondered how things might have been different if the teacher had pulled me aside to discuss my comment. It surprised me that she didn’t see behind the teenage façade to the fearful adolescent inside.
This episode was important in my life journey, having both a negative and a positive result. Negatively, I have never braved another theater audition in the 20+ years since that day. I have always loved to sing. I adore watching dance – it’s something that I always wanted to learn. I did take half a semester of an acting class and enjoyed it. Yet, even with friends encouraging me to audition, I have not gathered the self-confidence to go for it. The closest I’ve come to the theater has been joyfully choreographing small groups and choir motions for children’s choir musicals at our church in Virginia.
The positive outcome showed itself a mere six months later when I left my home state of Michigan to go to Liberty University, 12 hours away in Virginia. There, I found the courage to push away my fears of being unknown to reach out and meet new people. Rather than hiding myself away, I signed up for activities and socials and did everything I could to make friends, giving me a thoroughly positive college experience.
This was an inciting incident in my life.
I share my story as part of a synchroblog to celebrate the release of Inciting Incidents (Moody Press), a book featuring the stories of my online friend, Tracee Persiko, and five other creatives who share honestly about surviving life’s difficulties while attempting to do great things. You can read other bloggers’ inciting incident stories or post one of your own on the Stories page, here. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to share a brief story in the comments.
Tracee said it best in her blog post today,
“Some incidents we don’t invite or ask for, but they happen. Change is sometimes forced on us. Every circumstance comes with decisions to make in how to handle them. The fork in the road speaks of paths that will either lead to healing, or further pain…My hope is that we can encourage and find hope through one another’s life lessons.”