Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Facing My Fears

Confession time: I am a hypocrite.

Okay, I'm probably hypocritical about a lot of things. Aren't we all at some level? But there's been one thing I've been kind of wagging an internal finger at myself about for awhile now. Today, I finally decided to do something about it.

This is all sounding rather mysterious and scandalous, isn't it?

It's really not.

Here's the thing: I am a teacher. Not only am I a teacher, but I am a teacher in fields that are fraught with terror for a lot of people. I teach speech, and you know the old adage about public speaking being the thing we fear more than death. I also teach drama, another field that fills many with absolute dread. Even my super talented and loyal speech and drama kids often struggle with fear and confidence. And there's Mama Mel holding their hands and telling them there's nothing to fear and how they have to have faith and carpe diem and all that cliche stuff (that I legitimately mean, lest people think I'm being an insincere fraud on top of the whole hypocrite thing).

This, friends, is where my hypocrisy comes into play. While I've never been particularly afraid of speaking in public and really don't have a ton of issues when it comes to acting onstage, there is a very powerful fear that has often been a little on the crippling side for me. Singing. Don't get me wrong. When it's me alone in the car, I crank the tunes and belt along with the best of them. But getting me to sing in front of people? No way, Jose. I freak out. It probably doesn't help that my sis is an amazingly gifted singer. I resigned myself years ago to the fact that she got certain gifts in the genetic lottery; I got others. It kind of works itself out pretty nicely. Yeah, she can sing, but I am way taller than she is.... even steven!

So now, let's take a look at today. I've been hustling my students for the past couple months about auditioning for the summer musical with a local community theatre group. I think it's so important for my kids to get as much experience as they can, it's a great way for them to meet like-minded people who love theatre, and it's also a way for them to see that, even if they don't all intend to become professional actors, there can still be a place for theatre in their lives. I am a passionate supporter of community theatre, and I love sharing that experience with my students. After all, I would not be here today were it not for community theatre. (That's how my parents met...if I've never blogged about that story, maybe I will another time.)

Making the jump to the bigger pool that is community theatre, though, is a pretty daunting prospect for some of my kids. For some of them, the only person they've ever auditioned for is me, and I tend to be a pretty supportive cheerleader kind of person, especially during auditions. (Yes, friends, I'm a Paula. No doubt about it.) Suddenly, I'm asking them to go up against unknown talent from other schools, other towns and to stand in front of total strangers and put themselves out there. And it dawned on me today that I push them to do that...and I'm not willing to do it myself.


But that all ended today.

As a way to show moral support to my very brave (and very talented) students (and former students) who made the leap and auditioned, I swallowed my fears and found myself sitting beside them today to audition for All Shook Up. Yes, I sang in front of people. In front of my students. They were quite amused. I believe one said something about it being "cosmic justice." It was a little weird being a "peer" with my students, but it was also kind of fun and a little exhilarating to find myself in the same boat as my kids. And facing down a pretty epic fear? Wow. I'm not saying that I'm going to be running out there and tackling all of those other pesky fears any time soon. I won't be climbing any giant ladders. I won't be handling any snakes. But I sang in public, and maybe showed my kids that there really is nothing to fear but fear itself. And really high places. And snakes. But mostly fear itself.

UPDATE: I got a part. Well, I was cast in the chorus, but still! I get to perform with a lovely group of my students and perform on an amazing stage (a stage where Jack Benny, Houdini, and Fanny Brice are said to have once performed). If becoming a chorus girl isn't enough incentive to keep trekking to the gym this summer, I don't know what is! Stay tuned for a summer full of stories from my life as a ginger-headed chorus girl.

1 comment:

NICKI said...

haha! Congrats! And do not forget - geese are also fearsome!