Around the end of November I was having a conversation with a teacher in our building who is also the musical director for the high school play. She mentioned some casting struggles and I jokingly said I would fill in for any part that she had available. I was joking but it got me thinking. Thinking can be a dangerous activity! Thinking is what pushes you to do things outside of your comfort zone. ‘Why not?’ is a dangerous way to convince yourself that most things are possible.
Just think about that for a moment. Ask yourself ‘why not?’ and then don’t allow yourself any easy ways out. I can help you because I went through the list:
- I don’t have time – Wrong, you have time. Most things are really not a matter of time but a matter of priorities. If you really want to do something, make it a priority.
- I can’t sing – Wrong, someone once told me that Kermit the Frog had a top 40 hit. I haven’t looked that up but it was enough for me.
- I can’t get up in front of people – Wrong, you can! As I wrote previously, confidence just takes a deep breath and if you have enough deep breaths left you can do most anything. I stole that idea from the book The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin; great read.
- I won’t be good at it – This was a distinct possibility! In the end I decided to audition and let someone else decide if I was good enough. That probably took more guts than anything else. Putting yourself out there for others to judge takes a strong self image which I don’t always have.
Your questions will be different based on your ‘why not?’ but the point is, you have to delineate between excuses and explanations. Humans are good at making excuses to avoid challenging ourselves. We develop habits that keep us in a safe place. It’s normal. To really get out there and change your life and impact the lives of others you have to confront those habits and make an intentional change.
The next question then is ‘Why?’. I think I answered some of those above but there is more:
- I am a fan of musicals. I guess I always have been. I remember my dad acting in a musical when I was a kid and directing one. I also remember watching Oklahoma, West Side Story and The Sound of Music. Growing up I never acted on this love because I was afraid to. I wasn’t very athletic as a teen and athletics was everything where I grew up. It never occurred to me to perform in a musical or, god forbid, tell anyone I liked show tunes. My spot on the teenage hierarchy was already pretty tenuous. Putting that information out there would have been a death knell. As I got older and made friends with others who were musical fans. I loosened up and began to take my wife to shows and play show tunes in my truck. Picture that, a middle aged guy in his pick up truck blaring show tunes!
- What I discovered from this newfound courage to watch and listen to musicals is that they brought me a lot of joy. I would sit in a theater and start smiling from the beginning of the show clear through to the end. That is my second ‘why?’. If a show could bring me joy, why couldn’t I bring that same joy to others. Would people come and see the show and leave with as much joy as I did? Hopefully. This was an opportunity to do something that was bigger than me. To participate in a group that’s purpose was to bring joy to others. To make people happy and forget about whatever else they had going on in their lives for two hours. That’s a pretty powerful purpose if you think about it.
- My final reason for deciding to take this on was my girls and anyone else who needed a little nudge. I wanted to show my daughters that the possibilities for your life are endless, the opportunities for happiness are out there, you just have to grab them. I’ve written before about ‘choosing yourself.’ This is a perfect example of just that. I didn’t wait around to be chosen. Waiting around to be chosen dictates our entire existence. I chose myself. I put myself out there and said, ‘Hey, you should do this.’ We should all do that more often.
A funny thing about how I write is that I never know where I’m going until I start. One paragraph leads to a thought and then I just keep writing. My intention was to write about my experience in my first musical performance and I never quite got there. Let me end with a paraphrase of the email I sent to our director prior to our final day’s performances:
Thank you…you were willing to take a chance on a middle aged guy with no experience singing, dancing or acting. When I landed a role that has lines and a solo I thought maybe you were confused about who I was.
I worked hard at this. Harder than I ever expected to…you took a chance on me and I didn’t want to disappoint you.
Initially I thought this would be a ‘one and done’ but now I hope that you will welcome me back again. I feel like I am part of something bigger than myself and that is an awesome feeling.
…I have done a lot of different things in my life but this has to be one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.
Thank you! We both chose me! Why not?