Saturday, July 18, 2009

What are you waiting for?

"What are you waiting for?" my drama teacher asked me when I was in tenth grade.

I sat there at the drama audition, looking around the green room and shrugged. "I don't know."

He shifted in his seat and leaned forward. "You could have the lead in any of these plays. But you have to believe that you can."

I looked down at the audition pieces I prepared. One was safe- a short reading. The other was harder. It was long. I would have to sing. I wasn't sure I could pull it off. I looked at him. I looked at the paper.

No, I didn't get the part. I read the safe one and gave the better audition piece to my friend in the hallway, who did get the lead.

I had a love/hate affair with Mr. N, my drama and creative writing teacher.

He bugged me to join the drama club when I signed up for his creative writing class. Then he pushed me even more. I kept thinking that he was wrong about me. I was shy. I was introverted. I was not cut out for debating topics or reading poems out loud or sharing from my journal. I had no idea what he was trying to do most of the time he was my teacher.

The day of that audition, when I took the safe route, was a turning point. I sat in the hallway, my head in my hands, and realized that life was not about waiting when there was an opportunity. I never made that mistake again.

Looking back, it was that lesson that helped me when I fought to go to college early, despite the school district refusing to issue me a diploma even when I had the academic credits. It helped me when I didn't have enough money for law school and had to work up to five jobs at a time some semesters. No, I wasn't going to sit out a semester and wait. I was going to finish on time. It helped me after I acquired my disability and people told me to put my life on hold. No, I wasn't going to wait to do things or put my career on hold. If I waited, I would miss chances.

I have no regrets from the times I didn't wait, just the times I didn't put myself out there. And, thanks to my drama teacher, there aren't many of those.

I read this quote this morning and thought of Mr. N:

Don't wait for your ship to come in. Row out to meet it.


I count myself lucky that I learned that lesson at such a young age.

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