I was standing in the spotlight, everything was silent but I swear I could hear my heartbeat hammering against my chest. My hands were clammy and my knees felt like jelly, yet they never let me fall. I don’t remember singing or crossing the stage so I can properly deliver my lines like the main performer did. I was the understudy that was thrown on stage last minute, still in shock. Loud whistles and claps, almost like thunder rippling throughout the room and waking me from my deep focus.
That’s when everything changed. My status in the theater department went from “That goofy” to “The understudy that blew everyone away.” I could feel the pressure of having to be on top of my A game, every note I belted and every line I spoke, someone expected the same powerful performance I gave that night. I felt as if I was Dorian and my teachers and a few classmates were Basil Hallward, but instead of being obsessed with me they were obsessed with my performance and the way I “dominated the stage and made my mark.” I realized I could no longer hide in the back, I could no longer goof around with my friends and go unnoticed, I was now in the spotlight.
I shed that immature mentality and traded it in for something, I guess you could say, a tad more professional. I started looking for more pieces I could perform in the future, I even decided to try comedic pieces, something way out of my comfort zone.
"Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different," said Lord Henry, from the book The Picture of Dorian Grey. I guess I ran away from the comedic side of theatre because I'd rather cry in front of hundreds of people then to tell a joke and have no one laugh. So I did it anyway; I found a song I thought was depressing yet comical. “Screw Loose.” It was the second thing that helped me transform from my childish ways and into adulthood, mentally and to my parents.
I was trying to find the laugh in the song; I tried to make it a joke until I realized it wasn’t a joke, she was being honest and that’s what made it funny. The honesty in it all. This girl was actually mentally insane, something I can’t relate to (hopefully) and she was in love with a guy she could never have, but she still showed her affection for him, embarrassingly, in public. So I was honest. I allowed myself to be vulnerable. Now, I know I’m not the only person that has crushed on someone way out of their league or just simply unavailable, but it was a first for me to turn that vulnerability into a huge joke for people to laugh at.
Now here’s the part that mentally pushed me towards adulthood: I realized they’re not laughing at me. They’re laughing at my character, the girl that gets distracted in the midst of her song and starts mumbling to herself and the voices in her head. I got over a fear that should have never existed; I performed better than I ever hoped for and received feedback I thought I would never hear again. Not only did this inspire me to keep growing as a performer but it matured me, humbled me, and I gained more respect I ever thought I would have in the theatre department.
From that point on, I stopped looking at myself as a child, someone who is incapable of handling situations and taking on larger projects. I stopped viewing myself as a scared, lost child who has no idea what she is doing in this type of business. I started looking at myself as a responsible young adult, someone who will still be afraid but is fully capable of taking on more complicated task then I can imagine. I’m now the young adult who showed her parents how dedicated she is to her art, and proved to her teachers and classmates that she deserves a spot in her department. Becoming an adult doesn’t mean you’re fearless, but fearless yet willing to take risk and take full responsibility over your own life.