Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Feeling nervous is a terrible thing. Your stomach churns and in my case I develop a bright red, blotchy rash that spreads over my face, neck and chest resembling a bad sun burn. Fabulous. No playing cool, calm and collected here.
On Saturday I auditioned for The Listen to Your Mother San Francisco Show. I wrote a piece specifically for it. Actually I wrote two. One sad and one funny. The sad came easier and I thought it was better so it was my first choice. I'm known for funny though so the producers had asked if I had funny to share. Not feeling that my funny piece was funny enough I pulled something from my book (remember that? Still need a publisher....)
I thought I wasn't nervous. I don't mind speaking publicly (apart from the inevitable rash) and truth be told I quite like it.
So it hadn't really occurred to me to be nervous until twitter started chirping in my ear. My fellow auditioners were plenty nervous.
The power of suggestion should not be underestimated. The butterflies began to gather. I started to wonder if sharing my sad story was the right move. I haven't really written about my mother publicly - is now the right time? If people are expecting to laugh will my grief fall flat? I am reminded of the sometime anchor that is a name like mine. If I am sad or grumpy it's an instant pun. Should I stick with my schtick?
I don't want to. I have a story to tell. It feels ready to come out. This seems like the place. So why the nerves? Reading the other participants posts and tweets I see that there is a common difficulty in telling your story. Wondering how it will be heard. Wondering if being so vulnerable is a risk worth taking. It got me thinking that there must be a root cause for this commom anxiety.
Don't tell tales jumped into my mind. Actually it was more like "Don't tell tales!!" thundered at me by the adults in my past. Is that where the problem starts? The constant childhood assertion that we should not tell what is bursting to come out of us. Some perceived injustice or grievance that seems so important to share - squashed down in three words.
Well I'm an adult now dammit. I WILL tell my tale. So I did.
It was over in a flash. The two producers were friendly and encouraging but I couldn't tell you what they said. As I left I realized it had been a blur. I wondered how dancers do it. So much preparation for minutes of performance, followed by little feedback then a long wait. It had taken me longer to find a parking space than the entire audition process lasted.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Do one thing each day that scares you. Well unless looking in the mirror first thing in the morning counts, I certainly don't make that mantra a daily habit, but perhaps I can have credit for doing one thing that really scares me once in a while.
Whether I make it into the show or not, I tried. It stirred up my pulse and got my head out of mommyville for a while.
Perhaps telling tales is not such a bad thing after all.