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All the Questions and None of the Answers

January 10, 2011
Woman looking at audience from behind stage curtain.

Will I have to peek at the stage from behind the curtain no matter what?

“All the world’s a stage…and I’m still in the chorus.”

That was my Facebook Thursday night. And it’s a metaphor that actually happens to fit in to my life in a literal way right now. I tried out for a play last week. A musical. A show that is very important to me for a lot of reasons. In fact, I’m not even sure I know what they all are. Anyway, if you’re a regular reader you know that when I didn’t make the cut I was obliterated.

Trying out for that play and not making the cut has thrown me into the midst of a bit of an existential dilemma. I’m full of questions about my worth and my self-esteem and my place in this world.

Who am I?

What is true about me?

Do I need to go to outside sources to verify the things I believe about myself?

How can I weigh my own worth?

What should I really be trying to do?

It was an unexpected – and rather large – reaction to not getting a part in a play. So I’m thinking my emotions about it are attached to something larger than a play or my singing and acting abilities – especially since I had sort of given up on theatre long ago. (Although I do still write plays and dialogue in my spare time.)

So, what could it be? Grad school applications? Rejection issues? My anger over injustices all over the world? The idea that if you do well you should succeed being thwarted in my presence(i.e. my face) yet again?

I really don’t know what it is exactly. None of those things feel either connected to the pain I was feeling. Or, if they do feel connected, they don’t seem to reach the depth of pain I was feeling over this issue last week.

It has gotten me thinking though – obviously. Over the past few years I’ve been frustrated by my thwarted attempts to advance in my career and relationships and as a result I slowly stopped trying. I got lazy. And not scared as much as certain that no matter how hard I tried it wouldn’t do any good.

In a lot of ways I was actually trying to accept and enjoy mediocrity. It worked for a while. I was pretty contented. Until I realized I needed to change. I needed something more. I wasn’t sure what at first (and I’m not 100% sure even now) but I had to try to find out.

So I’ve been doing that. I’ve been working toward a goal and I just put my neck out there to be judged at 4 schools. I’m not too worried about it at this point. (At least I’m not conscious of being worried about it.) I did my best. I represented myself as honestly and as completely as possible and now I just have to wait. And if I don’t get in I can apply again next year.

I think that I’m okay with that. But I also haven’t gotten a rejection letter yet.

And I think that I’m a good writer, but I’m definitely scared to compete about it. I mean in the real publishing world. I don’t have that kind of confidence yet. I’m not ready to send query letters out or try to find an agent or anything like that.

I need to get better first. And I think I can get better but how do I know if that’s true?

Are there things that are true just because we believe them? Or do we need to search out some external ultimate truth. And how do we measure it and realize that it is ultimate if and when we find it?

I mean, since I didn’t make the cut to get a part in the show does that mean I was the worst one at auditions? Because I really thought I was better than several of the people who “made the cut.” Or is it all politics? In which case, no matter how good I am there’s no point in trying – or in trying to get better – because I’ll never make the cut. And if I’m either a) not very good or b) not going to make it anyway, is it better to struggle and fail or to just not try and learn to accept and enjoy mediocrity?

Ah, the places a person’s mind goes. And the questions with no possible answer that we manage to come up with.

And then there’s that thing about things being true just because you believe them. If things are true just because you believe them what should I decide to believe?

Obviously, I’m not ready to quit yet. But I did cry about all of this a lot. Over the past months I have adopted the idea that we are all far more powerful than we realize and that the reason we wind up in mediocrity is because we don’t try. But this week I felt like no matter how talented I am or how skilled I become I won’t be able to win. So that blew a bit of a hole in my “we have the power” ideas.

And, I guess that’s really why I’ve been crying so much.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    January 10, 2011 1:20 pm

    I certainly can feel the pain. I think many parts were predestined and even though our tryouts were good if not better, somehow did not fit the part. If the part called for a 400 pound man and two men auditioned, Being of equal singing or acating ability, it would appear to me that the 400 pound man would get the part. OR, if the part called for a person with an eating disorder and both being of equal talent, I am assuming that the thnner person would get the part…. Not Me. We will keep on keeping on and do our best.


  2. Jennifer permalink
    January 10, 2011 1:20 pm

    I can definitely identify with you. I spent the last 4 years trying to advance myself at my job, and I thought I got a break, but it was a fallacy. It took me looking outside my comfort zone and to a different job in a different city to get the opportunity I deserved, although I still feel it is questionable. I was very good at my last job, but it seems to me it was all about who you knew and not about your talents. Occasionally I found myself giving up, especially after I found a job in SD I knew I was overqualified for and I didn’t get a second interview b/c they didn’t want to fly me out there/offer for me to fly myself. I was devastated. For four months I tried to be mediocre. But lets face it, neither you nor I are mediocre and we both know it. I can’t settle for anything, much less mediocrity and I expect you are the same. Don’t give up!

    PS- I also know how getting a call back and then not getting a part feels, it happened to me a lot in high school. I was good enough for the call back, clearly meaning I could have been in the choir, a lesser role, etc., but b/c I was called back for the lead/supporting female roll and there was someone else who always got it (in multiple settings and multiple who’s) I didn’t. It sucks and I am sorry it happened to you.

    Never forget you are worth more than every no, and eventually there will be a yes!


    • January 10, 2011 2:25 pm

      Thank you, of course, for the support and I hope you are able to achieve every height you aim for…eventually. 😉


  3. jesswords10 permalink
    January 11, 2011 11:21 am

    The very fact that you’re brave enough to blog about your insecurities and how you’re struggling and working on them is amazing! Not everyone can do that. I recently started up a blog because I was “microscoping in” on my life, too, and I can identify with you that making changes, even small ones, are scary. It’s hard to tell yourself to try something new or take a new opportunity when you know you could fail. But I keep telling myself that if I believe Everyone has a Story, I should tell myself that too, and take what comes as a learning lesson. Stop by my newbie blog, and I’ll keep checking yours out too. I love the support that comes from bloggers, and I’m trying to give that back out into the blogosphere. lol. Oh, all these funny new words in my vocab. Anyway, break a leg, what would a musical be without a stellar chorus to keep the whole show going?!


    • January 11, 2011 11:44 am

      Thanks for the support Jess. I am happy to be in the chorus — just disappointed that I didn’t get a bigger role. Especially since I did so well at auditions. But I talked to the the guy who cast the show last night to ask him what I had done wrong and what I could do better next time and he actually said I did great — just as good and better than some of the people who got parts. He said there was nothing I could have done better. But “I look too sweet” for the parts they were casting. It seems a little like a cop out answer to me…but if there was something I could have improved on I think he would have told me because he’s a teacher and I don’t see him giving up a teaching moment. So I’ve decided to take it at that and not read into it any more. Although if/when I cast a show I go with talent first and looks second.


  4. January 11, 2011 2:45 pm

    From my vantage point, trying out is huge. It’s putting yourself out there for someone’s alse’s judgement. It’s such a brave thing to do. I always keep in mind that often, especially in the arts, talent is a very small part of success. You never know just what it is that someone is looking for. Let your passion for what you do be stronger than anything else.


    • January 11, 2011 4:37 pm

      Thanks for all the advice guys!

      “Let your passion for what you do be stronger than anything else.” That’s a great point.



  5. January 12, 2011 11:55 am

    Your honesty and courage are truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing it. Though you’re not asking for advice, I just have to say that as important as talent is, persistence is equally important. You seem very committed and I’m glad you’re not ready to quit. Keep at it and you will succeed.


    • January 12, 2011 11:58 am

      Thank you for the compliment and for your perspective on the situation. I will definitely try out for the next musical in town. But I still don’t have the time to try out for every show that is put on in the community.


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