Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stuck in Second Gear: When the Big Break Just Isn't Happening

Three months ago, something that was supposed to be life-changing happened. December 9th was a day I had marked on my calendar since June last year, and I was so ecstatic when it finally arrived. I purchased a new dress, straightened my hair, and even dreamed about this day.

Why? Because it was the day of my Next to Normal audition. I was auditioning for the role of the teenage daughter, Natalie; it was a role I have dreamed of since I started performing, and now it was my chance to finally play her, a girl whom I can relate to better than most of the girls who auditioned.

By reading the title, I know that it's pretty clear to you that I didn't get in to the show. In fact, I never even got a callback. I felt several emotions at first-- surprise, confusion, sadness, anger, and disappointment. I was surprised that I didn't get in; I nailed my audition piece, received lots of applause, and 'good jobs' from other performers. I got to hear the other performers, and while many were very good, some weren't that amazing, and many performers didn't even follow directions (who doesn't bring sheet music to a musical audition, really?). So why did I not get the callback? It seemed clear at the time that I would, but I didn't.

Then, I felt confusion. What did I do wrong? Did they hear my mistakes? Do I not have enough shows on my resume? Did they not like my song choice? Did I just not look the part?

This led to sadness. I worked for six months to get a role that they cut me off from on the very first day. I wrote character studies to ensure I understood the character. I took vocal lessons. I listened to the entire cast recording (which wasn't very hard, but...). I went through all of this crap just to be noticed, and they had already decided they didn't want me in the production after one minute.

The strongest feeling was anger, especially because I felt (and still feel) that the auditions were not taken seriously nor fairly. If you forget to bring sheet music to an audition, that's your fault. There is no excuse to not bring music of some sort with you-- it is common sense among any performer. So, how come a girl who didn't come prepared at all received a callback, but someone who rehearsed for six months wasn't given the time of day? How come a woman who exceeded her time limit got a callback, but a girl who followed every direction was overlooked? How come every girl who was called back was a short white girl? It didn't seem fair. It seemed like any and every thing that could have gone against me, well, did.

Lastly, I was disappointed. I worked so hard, and now it's over. It's very discouraging knowing that the producers have their minds made up whether they want you or not sometimes before you sing the first note. And I had to accept that I tried my hardest, and it just wasn't good enough.

I am not the only person who has felt this way. Almost anyone can relate to a time they felt cheated out of something they wanted, or they just couldn't bring their A game to the table. Maybe you're a journalist whose story is never published. Maybe you're the singer stuck in the chorus. The secretary who wants to be the boss. The athlete who is always in second place. Well, I've been in similar situations, and I understand how it feels. Everyone else is moving up in this world; when will my big break come?

Out of the depression and bitterness that comes with being the little guy, I have found some joy, and I know you can, too.

When I was a sophomore in high school last year, I had a clear plan: become the class representative for Student Government, and the next year, become the secretary. There was no reason (in my opinion at the time) that I shouldn't have been chosen-- my 3rd quarter transcript showcased a perfect GPA, I wrote a decent essay about why I should be chosen, I was on good terms with most (and I must emphasize the word "most"... there was a group of kids who laughed at me when I was campaigning... whatever, none of them have put much effort into their post-HS careers. Besides, this is the same group that laughed when I ran for homecoming court, and I won that) of my classmates, and I even gave them candy. I even made the mistake of assuming I was the leading candidate.

But, in the end, popularity is what won the election, and I am definitely not the most popular person in the grade. I totally skipped over the sadness stage; I was just mad. Like, who was voting for this? What were they thinking? I had more impressive credentials than many of the candidates, so what happened?

Now, I can think about it with a much clearer mindset. While I still think I would have been a good pick for the position, those elected have done pretty well so far. If it wasn't me, I'm glad it was them. And, things started to work out for me, too.

Early this year I joined my school's chapter of the Key Club and helped organize a few events to raise money for charity (our last fundraiser will allow us to donate blankets to a crisis maternity center). Then, in December I was inducted into the National Honor Society. Now that we're nearing the end of the school year (can you believe it?), elections have come around. So, I gave it another shot... twice.

For Key Club, I won because I had no opposition. For NHS, I beat out my opponent. This means that not only am I an officer in one club, but I am the secretary for two different clubs. And I feel truly blessed.

Around this time last year, I was upset because no one took me seriously. And now, I have more than I could have possibly ever wanted! I'm still waiting for the day my performance career takes off, but I'm well on my way with journalism. So, my advice?

Stay tuned. The best has yet to come.

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