When I was 17 years old, I wanted to be an actress. Being involved in the school plays throughout high school, I was told I was good. And I believed I had a chance. When it came time to apply for colleges, I wanted to audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
When I told my mother, she said: There are people out there who have more talent in their pinky than you have in your entire body. And you can’t handle rejection.
I resented my mother for those words. But they were strong enough, to discourage me from applying. I have carried those words, of not being good enough, with me for 20 years. And whenever something happens in my life that feels like failure – they are the first words I hear.
My mother wasn’t trying to be cruel. I know because she supports me in my writing. (Last year when my Mac died and I was without a laptop, she gave me the money to buy a new one. When I protested she said, “You can’t write without your computer.”) It’s only now that I’m a mother myself, that I understand. We want so much to protect our kids from pain and disappointment, that we will say or do anything especially when we see the signs of fragility.
Last year, I gathered the courage to audition for the Listen To Your Mother Show. I didn’t make it but was encouraged to return the following year to audition. This year, I signed up and received my appointment date. And then…I cancelled my audition. I told myself that it was pointless because I failed the year before and I was scared to try again.
I spoke to a friend who also auditioned last year and didn’t make it. She emailed me the other day and told me that this year, she auditioned and got in. She refused to be discouraged. She took a chance.
I wish I had done the same.
Sure there are moments, when I stand on the ledge and jump without thinking. And in those moments when I let go of my fear, I have had both failure and success. One cannot exist without the other. But more often than not, the fear of failure holds me back. It’s safer to watch from the sidelines as others pursue their dreams. I allow opportunities to slip away because I believe I will not succeed.
I cannot continue to let fear of failure rule my life decisions. I have to at least give myself the opportunity to try. I have to let go of the words that hurt and hold me back. If I ever want to succeed at being a writer, I have to be willing to fail.
And next year, I’m auditioning for the Listen to Your Mother Show.