Today, I watched the first part of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. This particular production featured Kelli O'Hara and Nathan Gunn as the iconic Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow. If you're not familiar with this musical, it's a big story with timely issues dotted with glorious R&H music.
The second Kelli O'Hara opened her mouth, these effortless, beautiful notes came out, and I thought to myself, "How does she do that?" Now, I'm a performer. I've been singing and acting in community theatre shows for many years. But I've had to "fight" for it. First, I had to learn how to sing. I'm not talking about studying vocal music at a prestigious conservatory. I'm talking about learning basics like pitch, tone, not crawling under a chair when singing in front of others.
As a freshman in high school, I auditioned for a variety show at our school. I will never forget singing The Sound of Music. I knew the song. I'd watched the movie every year on TV as a kid. But when I stood up on the stage in front of the teachers (who I would soon grow to admire and adore!), I had some ultra awesome vibrato happening from my knees knocking together. Seriously, I was shaking so hard, my voice quavered and sounded terrible.
I spent my high school years backstage, all the while longing to be out front. Choir helped me grow, as did my indignation. I was one of five senior girls in a singing group my last year of high school. They decided to perform a quartet for our senior talent show...and I was left out. Because of that, I signed up for a solo. They ended up dropping from the show, but I went for it.
I chose theatre as a career, so I studied stage management in college. While I performed in a few friends' director projects, I mostly stayed behind the scenes. After I graduated, I went to work for Disneyland. I considered auditioning for one of the shows, but I was told I'd have to quit as a stage manager before I could. I lost my nerve and kept my job. I did a few community gigs here and there, but I didn't really get into the performing side of it until after I had my children and started singing solos for church as a pastor's wife. I fell in with an awesome community group, comprised mostly of high school students and one amazing leader, who helped me grow as a performer and a playwright.
Sadly, we moved away, but I found another wonderful group to perform with. And even after all this time, it takes quite an effort for me to put together a monologue and a song for auditions. I love and trust the people I perform with, but I lose all confidence when I stand before them in the audition setting. Thankfully, they are gracious and understanding. (I'm in rehearsals for R&H's Cinderella as the Queen!)
So what does all this have to do with Miss O'Hara? I'm sure she had to "fight" to make it to where she is today. But as I watched her...and again, the word effortless suits her so well...I realized that everything I love doing is a struggle. I love to sing, but it's not easy. I'm fearful I'll hit a sour note and everyone will think I'm a fraud. I love to write, but I haven't been able to get an agent or a contract with a reputable publisher. And although I've self-published several books, I'm fearful someone will call me out...again, as a fraud.
And all this tells me that I need to stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of me. I need to embrace who I am--as a performer, as a writer, as a person--and just be who God created me to be. I've proved myself over and over again. I don't wish to be prideful or cocky, but I do wish to be confident that "He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6) My talents are a reflection of His glory. Nothing to be ashamed of, as long as He gets the credit.
I'm grateful for the fight. It keeps me humble. And His approval is all I need.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3