Monday, July 15, 2013

Things I am Learning

I knew I was a slacker but didn't realize quite how long it had been since I blogged anything!  Sorry about that.  I'll try to do better.

Anyway, as some of you know, I have recently been participating in the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.  This experience seems to be becoming one of those "pivotal life moments" we so often hear about.  With much gratitude, I have learned quite a bit about myself and the world I live in through this experience.

Lesson 1: I can do hard things.
Almost every moment of participating in this has been forced.  The initial decision was a whim and was not entirely serious.  When I first said, "Yeah, I'm gonna try out for this", I didn't mean it and I didn't believe it.  I am fat and have health issues that are often painful.  I am not especially pretty or talented.  Then I started to really think about it.  More than almost anything, I love to sing.  I wanted to sing.  Badly.  In the past, I was held back by anxiety and fear.  I don't like being looked at and I am always worried about being judged negatively.  This was another chance and maybe, just maybe, I would be good enough; not great, but good enough.  If I really wanted to sing, I would have to get past a lot of personal baggage.  I auditioned, I accepted a role, I accepted an even bigger role, I practiced, I went on stage and I sang!  Even though I had to push myself, hard, through every single step of auditioning from the moment of filling out the audition request form to stepping on stage, I did it.  I did it.  I did it.

Lesson 2:  My poor self-image is generated internally and I can change that.
I often think poorly of myself; that I have nothing of value to offer.  I assume that others agree because, well, isn't it obvious?  Turns out, not so much.  My friend, Missy, encouraged me to audition.  My friend Laura and my husband's cousin, Leah, gave me audition and performance advice.  My husband and son gave up countless hours of their own time and took on huge responsibility so I could rehearse.  My friends Ori, Mary, Cyn, Andy and Elaine encouraged and supported me through every single step.  Many friends and family members bought tickets to come and see me.  The cast and crew helped me through some things that were very difficult for me to learn and do and worked with me to help me do better.  All of these people had my back.  They steadied me when I stumbled.  They lifted me when I started to fall.  They believed in me.  I know these people to be smart and honest and they saw value in me.  This made me realize that maybe my image of myself does not match what others see.  I am learning to let go of who I was and the mistakes I have made.  I am learning that people are more forgiving than I give them credit for.  I am taking the lesson from them that my mistakes are just that - mistakes - and they are not the sum total of my existence.  I am learning to see myself for who I am and to forgive myself when I am not perfect.

Lesson 3:  Tolerance of differing views.
Through my associations in real life and on-line, I have isolated myself.  Though I know things are seldom black and white, when you spend a lot of time with people of a particular mind-set, you tend to "other-ize" those who are outside of your ideals.  The theater group is comprised of an amazing variety of people from all ages and walks of life.  Some of them are conservatives or libertarians.  Some are evangelical Christians.  Some are cheerleaders or frat boys.  Most of them are a lot...well, not like me.  Despite this, we have a common thread in our love of music.  This has reminded me that we have many common threads.  Our similarities are greater than our differences.  People have differing perspectives and that's okay.  There is room for tolerance and peace.

There is more that I want to say but it's not in words yet.  It's still just an amorphous jumble in the back of my brain.  When I get it sorted, I'll try to not be such a slacker and maybe make another post.

I don't know what is next.  I don't know where I go from here.  I do know that I will make every effort to take these lessons to heart and apply them to my life going forward.  I am more grateful than I can express to everyone who has taken this journey with me.

Take risks.  Love each other.  Love yourself.