Measuring Up

Photo: Andy Sharp

This picture is from about a year ago, when I was Anita in West Side Story. When I first saw it and every time I looked at it afterward, all I could see was that my leg wasn’t as high as the girl upstage of me.

Yesterday, after presenting at a conference, driving the 3 hours back home, and having 15 minutes to change and freshen up before heading back out, I had a dance audition. All I could see when I got there was that I was the oldest woman auditioning by at least 10 years.

When I got back home and was telling my husband how it had gone, (awesome), I also told him how embarrassed I had felt to be auditioning with people so much younger than me. There we all were in the holding room; them commiserating with one another over the stresses of choosing just the right audition wardrobe, me hoping my back wouldn’t give out in the middle of the combination. Just walking in the room with my head held high felt like a distinctly less-attractive option than hightailing it back home with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

And in the middle of that conversation with my husband, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should feel proud of what I had just done, not embarrassed.

Yes, I have been dancing for longer than most of the other auditioners have been alive…and I’m still dancing! That’s not embarrassing, that’s incredible! And of course my castmate’s leg was higher than mine; she’s 18 years younger than me and hasn’t popped out 3 kids! I’m still here, as the song goes. I earned my spot in that audition room, and I held my own with the best of them. I feel proud to still be able to do what I love; to audition and get rejected and practice and get better and try it all again.

I post this not only to celebrate, but to use it as a reminder to myself, because I know those insecurities will rear their ugly heads the next time I walk into an audition room full of people who still have to show their ID when they buy alcohol, if they’re even old enough to buy it. (!!!) Meanwhile, I’ll head back home in my minivan, (with a lower car insurance rate), grab a heat pad for my back, and try to feel proud of being the oldest one again. It must mean I’m doing something right.

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