My heart was pounding inside of my chest. I was backstage, waiting for my cue to go on and perform. There was a distinct excitement in the air that comes with opening night. I watched as everyone hustled around, getting their costumes ready and going over lines one more time. Everyone seemed a little nervous but mostly confident. How did everyone around me look so prepared when I felt like crying and simultaneously dry heaving? What did I get myself into? And how did I manage to get a lead role?
My thoughts were quickly interrupted, “You ready, girl?” I looked up at the makeup artist smiling at me. “You’re up in 10 minutes!” I wanted to barf. “No!” I practically shouted. “I’m not ready! I can’t go out there! I’m going to make a fool of myself! Could you help me go over my lines again?!” She laughed. “Stop it, you are going to do great!” My heart sank as she turned to walk away.
I panicked. I started racing around, desperate for someone to run lines with me. I kept getting the same answer, “I can’t, but hey don’t worry! You are going to do, great!” I felt a pit in my stomach. I just knew I was going to go out there and bomb. How would I be able to face everyone if I failed? “5 minutes!” someone shouted. “I got to get out of here!” I thought to myself. I snuck out the backdoor and took off running down the street. I looked back at the theater, feeling a mixture of relief and guilt, as the building got smaller in the distance. “It’s for the best” I said to myself. Then I woke up.
I had this dream, night after night. At first, I didn’t think much of it. I figured it was just another one of those stress dreams. After awhile though, I began to wonder if it meant something. I finally mentioned this recurring dream to my husband. He agreed that it did seem to mean something and to pay attention. That night I went asleep and sure enough I had the dream again.
The dream was pretty much identical to the previous nights. I was shocked to find out I had this lead role. I was terrified to get onstage and make a fool of myself. I was annoyed that people seemed so sure I would be great out there, when I was certain I would forget all of my lines and then possibly soil myself onstage. I started to plan my escape as usual. I ran to the door, put my fingers on the handle, then just stopped.
“What am I doing?” I asked myself. “I just can’t run away!” I stood there for a minute trying to decide. Should I run or just go out there and give it all I got. My hand dropped off the door handle. I knew what I needed to do. I took a deep breath. I told myself I was made for this and I would do the best I could. I spun around and marched out on stage to a cheering audience. I woke up with tears streaming down my face. I realized that this wasn’t just a recurring dream; It was the story of my life.
Something changed in me after that. The next day, I immediately started going after dreams I had in my heart for years. I started taking acting classes. This is something I had wanted to do ever since I was a child. Where I’m from though, saying you wanted to be an actress was like saying you wanted to be a unicorn when you grew up. I took classes, expecting just to have fun. Instead I came alive.
After a few classes, I went on a whim with a friend to an audition. I went, solely to learn how to audition. I didn’t expect to get a part, but I figured I could learn from the experience. So you can imagine how surprised I was , when I got invited to call backs. Then you can imagine my shock when I found out later that I got the part! I recently finished that role and I loved every minute of being on stage. I’m continuing to take classes and pursue what I love to do.
I wasn’t just inspired to go after dreams lying dormant in my heart. I was ready to face fears. At 29 years old, I recently started taking swim lessons. I took lessons as a kid, and cried through every class. I found them terrifying. Then I had a traumatic near drowning experience, so I never learned how to swim. This has always bothered me. I decided it was about time go get those swim lessons already!
That dream really changed the way I think. I no longer obsess over how things are going to work out before I take a step. It may have been my dream, but really we are all in that reality. This life is your stage and whether you like it or not, you are the lead role. You have a choice. You can waste your life hiding out backstage. You can tell yourself all the reasons why you can’t do your part. You can let fear of failure rob you of your destiny. You can even run in the opposite direction of the very thing you were made to do.
Or you could stop running. You can take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do this. You cut off that nagging voice in your head that says you need to be perfect. You tell it you only have to try your best. Then you do it. You march out on stage and put on the performance that only you can bring to this world.
Don’t worry. You’re going to do great.
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