Saturday, February 13, 2016

I Am the Two Percent




Today I am the two percent. 

The older I get the more I want to live in that two percent. 

I'm fond of this saying that's often attributed to Mark Twain, apparently incorrectly but brilliant nonetheless: 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the things you did do." 

In fact, this saying haunts me.  

I'm an anxious person by nature. I used to be embarrassed by this but I've learned I'm hardly alone. In fact, I've done more outside my comfort zone that I give myself credit for. 

Years ago I traveled to and around Australia for two and half weeks by myself with only one friend living in Sydney. That gave me some sense of comfort I guess. Today I marvel that I did that on my own.

As a young competitive figure skater, I went out in front of crowds of people to perform my program despite shaking legs and weeks of nausea in anticipation of the competitions.

I gave my mom a kidney. I signed up for an acting class. I’ve done public speaking.

Today, I auditioned for a spoken word show.

I wanted to do it. And I didn’t want to do it because it was uncomfortable.

It’s been on my calendar since last year. It always seemed so far away. And then it was here. I started getting emails about auditions.

And I didn't sign up. I didn't prepare. I kept putting it off.

I was in the 98 percent: A procrastinator. Living in fear. Staying in my comfort zone.

And that is what haunted me. What always haunts me. Because I cannot hide from myself.

We all have fears. Many we share. Others are very personal. For me, I don’t care if I never jump out of an airplane or run a marathon.

But I know when something stirs my soul it’s something I have to do or at least explore.

I’m a writer. I tell stories. And that often requires me to push through my perfectionism, my fear of being rejected. My mind goes to scary places. What if I fail? What if I panic or faint?

And so I held back. Waiting until it felt right. 

But it’s never right.

I was nudged recently by friend who did this show last year and knew I wanted to do it. I suspect I would have signed up anyway but a little nudge now and then done in love never hurts.

I took a closer look at the audition dates and locations. As of yesterday, I still had not signed up. But today was the best location. There was only one time. 9 a.m. The very first slot.

I could have easily put it off for another week. But I knew the sick feeling in my stomach, the cloud of fear and dread would hang over me that much longer if I didn't just get it over with.

I hesitated. And then I said to myself: Just do it. What is the worst thing that can happen? 

So less than 24 hours before my audition, I had crafted something I was comfortable with. Was it perfect? Would it ever be perfect?

And then I signed up.

Strangely I felt calm.

I had let go.

What happens beyond my showing up and reading my part is not my business.

All I can do is do my best then let go. Every day. 

That is what I did today.

I am the two percent.

2 comments:

Elizabeth Voss said...

Good for you, Ellen. Is the spoken word show going to be reading your own poetry? I'd like to hear it. If it's video-taped and online, tell me. Have you published any of your poetry?

Only the Half of It said...

Hi Liz! I didn't get an alert that you commented. It's called Listen To Your Mother and I was accepted! You could totally audition. It's also in NYC. Non-professionals, just stories. If you have the inclination go for it next year.
It's May 1 in Detroit and yes, they do video tape it and post to You Tube. So *deep breath* here goes!