This past weekend my younger daughter waited in a waiting room for "forever" (approximately 45 minutes), then stood in a line in a hall for "even longer" (approximately 20 minutes), and finally heard her number called (not her name). It was her turn. She walked into a room and stood in front of four adults and sang her heart out. All by herself.
She had the boldness and courage to walk into a room and audition for a show. She put herself out there to go for something she really wanted. She had the wisdom to know what she wanted.
She'd had about two days(ish) to prepare. We learned about the opportunity to do this on Thursday. We spent a little time that evening selecting a song. Then, she applied herself for two straight hours learning the melody and lyrics. The next day was a school day but still, under her own motivation, she worked that evening memorizing and getting comfortable. The next morning, thanks to some generous and talented family, we went to her aunt's to practice singing with a piano and sheet music. That was a whole new ball to learn to toss.
She had many what ifs:
• What if I forget to sing?
• What if I forget the words?
• What if I sound bad?
• What if they think I sound bad?
• What if I don't start at the right time in the music?
• What if I wear the wrong thing?
• What if I don't know where to go?
• What if I get nervous?
• What if I am so nervous I can't sing or talk?
Her what-ifs reached a fever pitch shortly before the audition, as her nervousness grew. I debated fiercely inside myself about whether to offer her an out but decided to not offer it. I thought it was more important to respect her ability by believing in her absolutely -- offering an out seemed, somehow, in this case, to be a message that undermined her. She knows she can quit, and I rather expected she'd bring that up. I really wasn't sure what I'd do if she did -- talk with her about it, I suppose, try to encourage her to try anyway, after all the work she did -- but not once did she ever out loud entertain the idea of giving up.
She decided on her own to stay in and when the time came, she walked in to that room alone and pulled what she needed from within herself and did it.
I said she walked in there all by herself but she wasn't ever really alone. She had a lot of supporters there in spirit.
I offered her the chance to do this and supported her through it because I believe in her, absolutely. Her father was the ditto to that. Her uncle told her he feels nervous at auditions too and he's been to tons of them. Her aunt described the process in detail until she could visualize it. Her grandmother printed out the sheet music in two keys to help her figure out which she preferred and told her to use nerves for energy. We all talked with her, talked her through, her what-ifs.
She is rich in this support and encouragement. It gives you the confidence to believe you can try. But in truth, choosing to walk through that door is all her, all her and her alone.
She did mess up. Her knees knocked and her stomach butterflied, she told me. But she did it. She even will have a spot of some sort in the show, nothing lead or key, just a bit of chorus here and there.
When she returned from the audition to meet me in the lobby, I did not ask her how it went, what happened, what they said, or anything like that. I had thought long and hard the entire time she was gone about what mattered, what to ask and how to phrase it.
"What do you think now that you have finished this?" I asked her.
"I think it was hard and a lot of work, and I was really scared," she said.
"I see," I said, listening.
"I'm glad, though and can't wait to do the show!"
She felt proud of herself for working so hard to prepare, for walking in that room, and for taking a chance.
She may just be chorus in the show but she was the lead in her own life.
Are you as courageous as a seven year old?