I watched my daughter walk away from me. Her stride was confident and her smile bright as she waved goodbye. I had done my best to prepare her. Still I was nervous as she disappeared through the doorway.
When she first announced she was going to try out for the school play, I tried to talk her out of it. I explained that drama productions rely heavily on dialogue. That she had only spoken English for a few years. That her accent might be hard for the audience to understand.
But she was determined. She had dreams of becoming an actress and this was the perfect opportunity for her to start.
We spent hours together reciting lines, practicing enunciation, slowing down her speech in order to make her accent a little less noticeable. She pronounced the same word over and over again, trying to smooth out her r’s and sharpen her t’s.
We didn’t have to practice her acting skills. She is the queen of drama. She played her character well. Face alight with energy. Body communicating her emotions.
The day of the auditions I gave her a little pep talk. As I drove to the school, I told her how courageous she was.
“You are amazing, sweetheart.” I said. “You are energetic, dramatic, and prepared. I think you are an excellent actress. I am so proud of you for auditioning today. It takes a lot of courage to get up in front of people. This will be a good experience for you. First auditions are always hard. Don’t be discouraged no matter the outcome. If nothing else, today you will get to practice auditioning. Each time you audition, you will get better and better.”
I gave her a hug as she got out of the car. I snapped this picture as she walked away, feeling as though I had prepared her for the most likely outcome.
I posted the picture on social media with this caption:
I am so proud of this girl. She has more courage in her little finger than most adults have in their entire lives. Whether or not she gets a part, she is already a star.
“Whether or not she gets a part” was a euphemism for “Even though she won’t get a part.”
And then this happened:
I jumped up and down in the Walmart check out line. I hugged my daughter tight as tears filled my eyes.
“I am so proud of you, honey!” I said.
She smiled as she hugged me back. “Thanks, Mom. You didn’t think I would get a part, did you?”
Her words cut right to the heart of the matter.
She was right.
She had seen through my hollow words. She knew I didn’t think she could do it.
My daughter never held this against me. She appreciated the things I had done right: spending time practicing with her, filling out the application paperwork, driving her to the audition, encouraging her. We both thought it was a long shot that she would actually get cast in the play.
The difference between her and I? She believed she could.
Over the next several months I watched my daughter soar. She came alive on stage. But at home she struggled to balance school work and rehearsals. She gave up play dates and free time and watching television. She ended many days in tears as the stress threatened to overwhelm her. It wasn’t easy.
But she never asked for easy. She only asked for possible.
As my daughter worked hard for what she wanted, as she chased her dreams and believed she could catch them, she taught me a lesson.Hard work and hours invested may be the building blocks of success, but belief is the cornerstone.
Our dreams will never become reality until we believe in ourselves.
It is a powerful gift: believing in someone. I am going to give this gift to the people I love. I am going to give this gift to my children. I am going to give this gift to myself.
I have been struggling with self-doubt. What if they don’t like me? What if I am not any good? What if I fail? Trying something new is always scary. It is easier to stay safely within our comfort zones.
But great things never come from comfort zones.
Here’s the truth: if we step out into the deep end, we might sink before we swim. We might not win the race or get the part or sign the book contract. But our success comes in the trying, not in the results. It comes in the believing.
Let’s not allow doubt to keep us from our dreams.
I want my children to chase after their dreams. I am determined to be their first and best champion. They need to know I am firmly in their corner, cheering them on to greater heights. My voice will be louder than any doubts.
The night of my daughter’s debut finally arrived. Once again, we worked together to prepare. We practiced lines, enunciated words, slowed down her speech to control her accent. But this time I believed in her. I knew she was going to get up on stage and deliver an outstanding performance.
I believed she could.
And she did.