Be a light unto yourself

The last time I auditioned I was 16. I was taking a Theater Arts class in high school and liked it enough that I decided to try out for a play. It was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - the musical. Having little (read: zero) musical training, I set about to find a song that would suit my shaky 16 year old voice. At the time my mom and I were in love with Chicago, the musical, and happened to own a book of the piano music. I decided to sing All That Jazz. My mom put her piano skills to use as I belted out the tune, over and over again. I practiced so much, in fact, that the night before the audition I lost my voice. Quickly I went from Broadway Star (I'm being generous here) to haggard old cat. But I decided to audition anyway.

The day of the audition a friend of mine who was a theater pro coached me through my song. She listened to me sing and gave me some pointers on how to move my body with the music, displaying great stage presence. You want me to spread my arms all the way out like a giant star? I thought, That seems so...uncomfortable.

I took the stage and with my raspy voice and jittery body I did the best version I could. I'm being kind when I say it wasn't very good. I felt humiliated. I walked off the stage knowing that I wouldn't get the role.

I never tried out for another play again.

This morning I had the opportunity to revisit my 16 year old self. I had my first audition for a yoga teaching position at a studio that's managed by one of my favorite teachers. The task was simple - teach a 10 minute sequence with standing and seated postures. Show us who you are as a teacher. There were 6 of us in the room ranging from 6 years of experience to 3 months of experience (that would be me). Even so, I felt calm, centered, collected. The 3 C's of success!

And then it was my turn. I went to the front of the room and suddenly my entire body was trembling like a leaf. I opened my mouth to speak, and my voice came out just as shaky as my limbs. Breathe! I commanded myself.

My sequence was decent. My teaching and explanations were...not my best. As I sat down my mind started attacking me. That was terrible. Maybe you shouldn't be a yoga teacher. Who do you think you are trying to compete with these other teachers? When it was over, my favorite teacher gave me a hug. His embrace, his love, his acceptance totally shattered me. I wanted to burst out crying. I felt ashamed, especially in the face of someone I admire and respect so much.

Leaving the studio I knew I had a choice. Grind myself down into the smallest version of myself OR find a place of compassion, love and gentleness and approach myself from there. As hard as it was, I chose the latter. You're awesome. You're learning. You tried! I called my partner, hoping for some comfort. He didn't answer. OK - how do I make myself feel better? Answer: Buy a Philz coffee (they really should call it happy juice).

When he called me back, I didn't receive the kind of support that I desired. "MAKE ME FEEL BETTER!" my ego cried, "HELP!" We got off the phone, and I was so upset. I wanted to text him and tell him he wasn't doing a good job. Not giving me what I need. In reality, I was upset at myself, but I wanted to make it about someone else.

As I walked home, I recalled a poem I wrote a few months ago. One of the lines reads, "What if what's inside creates reality, not the other way around? If we all knew this truth, only love would abound." I allowed the sun to kiss my face, the breeze to tickle my skin. I took deep breaths. Then I remembered myself at 16. The young lady who wanted so badly to act and after one bout of stage fright gave the whole thing up. I never looked back. Pretended like I had never had that dream.

Then I saw that this was an opportunity for a do-over. To learn the lesson a different way this time. I took a moment to travel back to my 16 year old self. To comfort the little girl inside who is scared to be vulnerable. Scared to mess up. I held her, ever so tenderly, and praised the effort. I reminded myself that I am new at this, and I have so much to learn. And I encouraged myself to try, try again.

So now, here I am, practicing what the Buddha taught so many of his disciples - "Be a light unto yourself." What's inside does create reality, and following your heart will never lead you astray. With that, I'm onto the next audition! I was born for this.