On Saturday, I auditioned for America’s Got Talent. It was a fun experience in a dry mouth, heart-pounding, WTF am I doing kind of way?
This was my view as I sat at the back of the waiting area waiting for my number to be called to audition.
I had signed up to audition for the previous two years and backed out each time. This year, I signed up in August and didn’t mention it to a single friend or family member until the day of the audition as part of me thought that I might still back out at the last minute. The potential for public humiliation on such a huge scale is especially terrifying for someone who grew up in England with a mantra of “what will the neighbors think?” repeated frequently, I tend to avoid embarrassing myself or getting “too big for my britches” at all costs. So backing out seemed highly likely. And yet I didn’t so what was different this year?
The first difference this year was the work that I want to do with The Midlife Courage Project. It feels very inauthentic to be encouraging other women to be courageous if I’m not willing to take my own advice. Stand up comedy is a dream that I have put on hold or simply toyed with for 21 years. The first time I did stand up was when I was pregnant with my now 20 year old daughter. During the past 21 years, I would do a couple of shows and then stop for a couple of years. Until Saturday when I auditioned, it had been 9 years since I did a show That is a very long time to bury a part of yourself – especially a part of yourself that you love so much! So there was definitely a sense of it’s time to walk your talk. Or stop talking about midlife courage!
The second reason that I showed up this time instead of backing out came from a newsletter that I received in the week before I was due to audition. It was from Sarah K Peck and the subject heading of the newsletter was “Try this when making decisions”.
I’m quite obsessed with why people (including myself) stay stuck in certain situations or struggle to make decisions. I think that a large part of it can be wanting to control the outcomes of a choice or a fear of making the “wrong” choice.
In the newsletter, Sarah writes:
“Instead, I like to ask of the options in front of me: What will teach me more?”
This really struck a chord in me. I had learned everything there was to learn from NOT showing up for the audition. I was suddenly intrigued about what I might learn from actually following through and doing the audition. Not just from the audition itself but from how it would feel to say that I was going to do something scary (and yet important to me) and then to actually do that thing.
Sarah included the following quote from Deepak Chopra at the end of her newsletter:
The third reason that I showed up to audition on Saturday is summed up beautifully by a quote from Anne Lamott which I saw on Instagram last week (I have seen it before and every time, it resonates so deeply within me). She writes:
It really would break my heart to wake up some day and I’m 65 or 75 and I’ve never written the things I want to write or uncovered my full potential as a writer and comedian.
I don’t want to be the cause of my own heartbreak.
So I showed up on Saturday afternoon. I sat for a few hours in a large waiting area with hundreds of other dreamers who had shown up with their dreams and their vulnerability and, in some cases, their stilts.
I won’t find out until mid-January whether I will be on the show or not. To be honest, I feel like I gained so much confidence from flexing my courage muscles and showing up to audition that whether I get on the show or not doesn’t even feel important any more.
What is a dream that you have put on hold for far too long? How can you show up for that dream and take a step towards bringing it to life?
I wish you a wonderful week ahead. If you are in the US, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!