Introducing Valerie, a former coworker from way back in the day when we both worked in a bookstore. Valerie inspires me in the way she has recently been facing her anxiety and depression issues head on, and she will not quit until she has regained control. She has also been paying more attention to herself and doing things that make her happy, which also inspires me to do the same for myself. One of the things Valerie loves is being on the stage, and this is her story of kicking her anxiety’s ass and getting that ass back on the stage!
I narrowed it down to anxiety. Anxiety is defined ‘distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger and misfortune’. Uneasiness of mind? Check. Fear? Check. Fear of failure or misfortune? CHECK! A big big check! The two words that stand out for me here are ‘fear’ and ‘failure’. So many times in my life I’ve been scared to do things because I was preoccupied with failing or being hurt(physically and/or emotionally). I always focused on the negative and worst case scenario and let it consume me, leading me to not do something that might actually be a good experience. I even let this get in the way of doing things I enjoyed.
But that’s not what happened. For over 15 years, I stayed off the stage. But after restarting my love for the performing arts in 2011, I realized how much I missed it. I took improv classes and even performed in a couple of one act play festivals. But in the midst of all this, I was still struggling with my anxiety. I became nervous about wanting to experience and pursue one of my passions. I struggled and fought with the ‘Don’t even try it! You’re going to fail’ thoughts that had plagued me for so long.
I didn’t want to miss out on this experience again. I wanted to get out there and seek roles. Or , in the theater/acting world, ‘audition’. I was well aware that any part I sought probably wouldn’t be handed to me and I would have to compete with others for it. (For those of you who are not familiar with the theater worlds, not having to audition for a role is VERY rare. There is some precasting but that doesn’t happen a lot). I knew that I probably wouldn’t get a majority of the roles I sought (again, that is normal). I knew that sometimes I would fail. I had to mentally prepare myself for that.I had to put away my feelings of anxiety and realize that, yes, there will be rejection (and lots of it ), but if I don’t at leasttry, then there will be regret and I’ll start feeling depressed about it.
I’ve been expressing to my therapist how much I loved thhe theater and how I wanted to get back into it. She was encouraging me to put away the aforementioned feelings and try but she also wanted to make sure I was mentally prepared for the rejection I would face. The auditions that didn’t pan out the way I wanted to, the doors slammed in the face, and, we can’t forget, the not-so-thrilling opinions made by others. The critics, the fellow thespians with huge egos (I.e. the people who think they are ‘God’s gift to the stage’) and those people that think that no matter how hard you work and prepare , they will always come back with a negative, snarky comment.
When I met with my therapist a few days ago, I told her about auditioning for a play at the end of the month. I expressed to her how much I REALLY wanted to do it and how I felt very confident in at least trying, knowing how the results might pan out. I think she was more enthusiastic about it than I was. So am I gonna do it? Yes, I am. There’s a play that I’m auditioning for at the end of the month. Will I get The role? Maybe, but then again maybe not. Will I be able to handle the results no matter what they may turn out to be? Yes.
But if I don’t at least try, I know I will regret it. I will feel bad and start feeling depressed about not trying. Worst of all, I will have let anxiety win.