Contestant 324

October 13, 2017

It’s that one feeling. That feeling you can never get used to no matter how much you do it, but it leaves you wanting more. Having done something, but it only comes back in flashes. Sometimes, it’s permanently blank. That feeling. That feeling makes it all worth it. That is, of course, until your brain gets in the way of everything.

 

“Please welcome contestant 324 to the stage please. Contestant 324,” A loud voice booms through the theater. I’m next. In just 3 minutes, I'll be on the biggest stage I've ever seen, performing in front of hundreds of strangers and for judges who can make or break my future career within seconds. My whole future is relying on these next few minutes. It’s these kinds of feelings. These kinds of moments in life that make me the most excited. It may seem crazy, but that’s makes me who I am.

 

All that confidence is thrown away within seconds as I see the girl competing against me pull out seven turns within the first count of eight. I turn away from the stage as not to make myself more nervous, but that does almost nothing. What if I'm not ready? What if I get out there and forget the whole thing? I can't help but second guess myself as I look around and see a sea of other dancers, preparing for their turn to shine. As I notice the lights dimming and the curtains drawing close, followed by the loud echoing claps of the crowd, I realize, those three minutes are over. It’s my turn.

 

As I’m shoved onto the dark stage, I desperately search for something to calm my nerves. A mark on the floor, or even my reflection. But I find Nothing. Nothing. I scurry into position as I close my eyes, my last resort for trying to calm myself down. I try to imagine myself sitting in the crowd, and watching myself dance on the stage. Warmth fills my body as I hear the rattle of the curtains, once again opening and a loud voice fills my mind, cutting off any sort of comfort I can give to myself. “Please welcome contestant 325 to the stage, Contestant number 325.” I take a deep breath, knowing that as of now, hundreds of eyes are now going to be watching every move I make. Realizing that even one slight movement off, one wrong placement, could cost me everything. A wave of nausea rips through me. Turning to face the crowd, I see small glares of people’s glasses against the light of the stage. A long table sits in the first row, littered with papers and monitors, and people seated with headsets and microphones. These visions register in my brain in a matter of milliseconds. My mind goes blank.


It’s one of the oddest feelings. To be able remember so much, but also so little at the same time. All that hard work to get where you are, to be able to shine on stage. But when the time comes, everything goes blank. All that hard work, just to remember the scariest parts of it. It's that exact thing that makes it so special. To be so in the moment with something. It’s almost comforting to not remember any of it.


One thing that I will always remember is the roar the crowd gives you when you pause in your final position. Standing there still, thinking, Wow. Those cheers are for me. Those claps are recognition of all that hard work. It's almost like a slap in the face to your brain. Saying to yourself, “Why did you second guess yourself? Everyone loved it. You loved it.” I realized a very valuable lesson that day. Almost everything in life has something to be learned from. I learned that your only enemy is your brain at times. Perseverance and self confidence can get you through more than you may think.






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