“I know this is totally off topic but I don't know where else to ask and you guys are great at advice-giving so maybe you can help me. I worked really hard all semester learning how to dance for the first time. Then at our final performance I got so nervous that I screwed up and danced really badly and now I'm embarrassed and feel like a failure and like I'll never be good at anything. How do I stop being so negative and hating myself so much?”
- Question submitted by Anonymous
OMG STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
Let me tell you a little story about myself. When I was in 7th grade I was like ‘i wanna be on that stage’ (in my imagination i’m pointing to the stage that was also in our cafeteria) and I was determined. I decided YES, YES I WOULD DO A MONOLOGUE ABOUT BEING A TOMBOY FOR OUR TALENT SHOW…I practiced, my parents helped me, i was SO ON TOP OF IT…. When I got on stage to audition Abi Nicholas held my script (in case i forgot my lines) and boy did she have a job ahead of her, bc i forgot every single line…every one… I also got kiwi on my shirt earlier in the day so it was ULTRA EMBARRASSING.
Then I moved on, decided to audition for show choir with a piece by B*WITCHED called “To You I Belong” and failed miserably. i was too quiet and my voice cracked and i was red-faced the whole time…nonetheless, i picked myself up and tried out for almost every show in High School…I SORT OF got into ONE OF THEM, I convinced myself it was bc my teacher hated me…and THAT was super embarrassing too…bc I was going to college to be a theatre major, YOU GUYS…I JUST KEPT GOING. When I got to college I almost didn’t audition for the first show of the semester bc I was terrified, I knew I wasn’t good enough and in the back of my mind was Abi Nicholas mouthing the words “so whats wrong with bein’ a tomboy?” and I was like ‘I KNOW ABI BUT I JUST CAN’T MAKE THE WORDS COME OUT OF MY MOUTH’…but I went on…I auditioned YET AGAIN. and I got in…I was in a three woman show my Freshman year of college and everyone thought I was AWESOME… Then I was on the MAINSTAGE THE FOLLOWING SEMESTER…which was not something that all freshman could pull off *dusts off shoulders* and I ended up somehow being in 7 shows my freshman year and rounding out my college career with a resume you’d read over more than once, KNOWWHATIMEAN?!?!
My point is, we all have these bumps, these ridiculously-scarey-mind-numbingly-embarrassing bumps. They suck and you think you’ll never forget how you felt when they happened…I’m here to attest, you won’t forget that feeling…BUT ALSO, you will never feel better than they way you feel after you try again. I know that sounds lame and cheesy, but it’s true, when I think about the feeling of seeing my name on the cast list for the first time, I can still feel my heart jump. TRY AGAIN. always.
This question made Dannielle and I both tear up and punch the table and say “NO. STOP IT. STOP IT, NO!” over and over again, because we KNOW that goddammit you knew that motherfucking dance and you knew it SO WELL.
I, too, have suitcases full of stories from high school (like my first audition where my knees LITERALLY knocked together, you could HEAR THEM KNOCKING and I ALMOST FELL DOWN). I have piles upon piles of stories where I screwed something up that I knew perfectly just a moment before. Our brains are little fuckers, you guys. They looooooove nothing more than to be like, “HAHAHAHA LOOK HOW POWERFUL I AM I CAN MAKE YOU FORGET YOUR OWN NAME WHILE EVERYONE IS WATCHING.” Bitch-ass hos. That’s what brains are sometimes.
I want to tell you something, though, and maybe you and I can take some positive steps forward together. This Fall, Dannielle and I are apparently going to be talking to thousands of students at dozens of schools. Now, I know you all think, PSH, you are so good at talking, Kristin, that will be great. THANK YOU, but also, talking in my kitchen to a computer screen when I know I can mess up and giggle at Dannielle and make her edit it so I look hilarious is WAY DIFFERENT than being on stage and having to remember what I am supposed to say and also which dance move comes next and also not to knock my knees together. It’s scary, but, I have to do it and I want to do it and I WILL DO IT.
So, Anonymous. You and I and Dannielle have all totally screwed up and completely humiliated ourselves and there is a chance we will do it again. What I want is for you to be like, “Okay. That was rough, but shit happens. I need to try again, and I need to be strong and remember that everyone messes up, and I need to remember that Kristin is somewhere in Brooklyn also panicking that she will forget everything on stage in front of 1,200 students and pee her pants and Dannielle will laugh at her and everyone will leave and she will get fined $50 for peeing on school property, SO WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER AND WE WILL DO THIS TOGETHER AND WE WILL NOT PEE ON ANYONE.”
You with me?