“Think of one of the hardest things that you’ve done. How does this compare?” This has been my go to line to start a pep talk since I was a sophomore in college. I was involved campus ministry (shout out to InterVaristy USA) and paired with another leader practicing outreach conversations. She was really nervous about dorm visits and sharing all that we were about as an organization. I asked her that question, to help give perspective on the whole experience. When in situations with negative possible outcomes, I have never been able to completely ignore the fact that everything could go sour. However, if I think about worse things that have happened to me, it gives me an interesting sense of ease. If I could walk away relatively unscathed from the other bad experiences, I should be fine with what I am about to attempt. This mentality may not be the most conventional when facing challenges, but it has helped calm my nerves and allowed me to perform at my best. I have given this talk to many of my friends, family members and mentees and it has appeared to help them as they go through life, so it’s become a solid member of the common phrases toolbox.
Now unfortunately, or fortunately depending on perspective, not everything has gone perfectly in my life. Despite floating on a calm breeze of optimism, some mishaps have come to weigh me down. These memorable experiences have left a lasting sting that pushes back on my pep talk lines, and most of them have sentiments most people can relate to. Rejection. Failure. Mistakes. One that left a particularly lasting imprint was my first failed audition for the dance company at my alma mater. I had never felt so foolish or humiliated, and almost quit dancing altogether that day. Had it not been for some sound advice from very good friends and encouragement from my dance professor, I would have. I like to think that this experience made me a stronger dancer, pushed me to work harder, and taught me an important lesson about dance; rejection is common. Most of my memorable failures have taught me significant lessons, despite the uncomfortable process.
I am now considering auditioning for a group near me, and there has been internal debate. On one hand, I would love to be in the group and truly miss performing. Even if I don’t succeed in my first audition I will learn a lot through the failed audition process. In the other corner sits my fears and my ego. I know that sounds shallow and small, but I admit to being only human. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t hesitate to take a step out on faith and audition. I can only hope to grow into a better version of myself, and work up the courage to do so.