Do the Things that Scare You

Photo by Varun Gaba on

Yesterday, I did something completely out of my comfort zone. It was terrifying; I was worried about embarrassing myself, and it seemed borderline ridiculous. I did it anyway. And, that’s something to celebrate. We should all be doing more things that make us uncomfortable.

Ok, let me start at the beginning. Earlier this year, I saw an article about a movie filming in Washington, DC that was looking for extras. I’d never done anything like that and I decided to at least sign up as a potential extra. They ended up casting me. I did the fitting, the mandatory COVID testing, etc. and was all set to do the one day of shooting. Then, the set got abruptly shut down due to health concerns. It would’ve been fun, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I didn’t think any more about it.

Cut to this past weekend. Something popped up on my Instagram feed (damn Instagram and its algorithm!) about open casting for Law & Order: SVU. Well, who wouldn’t want to be on an episode of everyone’s favorite long-running cop drama?! On a whim, I filled out the interest form assuming it would be basically the same as the movie extra situation. Wrong! Turns out it’s a casting agency and I have to prepare a very short monologue for a virtual casting call. I was horrified.

My first thought was, “Nope.” I’m a 42 year old mother of two with exactly zero acting experience. I have no business getting involved in an actual casting. Who do I think I am? I’m not a pretty young thing looking for my big break. I’ve got wrinkles and a c-section shelf, for god’s sake! Even the notion of it was vaguely humiliating. I talked to my husband about it and he told me I was being ridiculous. He said, “It sounds fun. Just do it.” As an aside, lord, I love that man. He’s endlessly supportive and for that I am forever grateful.

After much more thought, and much more self-doubt, I decided to at least try. Sure, I was terrified, but what’s life without a little terror in it, right? Are you really living if you don’t push yourself every once in a while? I memorized one of the monologues from the casting agency’s website, did my hair and makeup (such as it is, since I don’t wear foundation or powder and don’t highlight or contour,) and got dressed appropriately.

With my nerves buzzing, I logged on to the virtual casting call. I’m there along with god knows how many other people. We listen to the whole spiel from the agency rep, learning about both modeling and acting castings and how everything works. In the end, I didn’t do my monologue because the agency wanted a nominal upfront fee and monthly fee to get access to their casting call lists. I think the agency was perfectly legit, but I wasn’t signing up for anything without having an attorney look at the contract, especially as it pertains to the entertainment industry. But, whether or not I actually performed was beside the point. I was prepared to do it. I didn’t let the little voice in my head telling me I was a fool win.

It’s taken a long time, but I’ve finally internalized that the only person that dictates whether something is foolish or out of line is me. We are the only people that get to decide whether doing something new is a bad idea. Our own feelings are the only ones that truly matter. If we let others’ opinions dictate what we do, we’ll never try new things. Yes, it might’ve been a fool’s game and it probably wouldn’t have led anywhere, but at least I was willing to try.

Writing was no less a scary decision than the casting call. Deciding, at close to 40 years old, to change professional direction, again, was not easy. It’s still not easy. Trying to find your spot among the many talented writers out there is no mean feat, but here I am, plugging away.

At least I was willing to try. As one of my favorite content creators, Elyse Myers, said, “Because I do things regardless of being scared, that actually makes me a brave person, not a scared person.”

Get out there and be brave, y’all !