I won't lie and tell you that I don't like to talk. I LOVE to talk. I could filibuster all day on trivial and mundane topics, share my opinions of world events, publicly scold our local officials for their ignorance, wax poetic. But the part about standing in front of an auditorium full of people and reading a personal essay? Oh dear God, what was I thinking?
A few weeks ago, I casually auditioned for a place in the local production of Listen to Your Mother. I shared a piece that I had written quickly, because I would have kicked myself for not entering, and because I kept walking away from the essay that is years in the making. It makes sense in my head. It looks half decent on paper. It reads okay out loud, except for the parts where I get choked up. Which I did in the audition. I didn't think I would AT ALL. I had a very detached perspective on the piece until I heard the sound of my own voice reading it. And then, it was like I punched myself in the gut.
So, you can imagine my emotional response to finding out that I had been selected. Well maybe you can't. Maybe you think I have all my shit together and I'm a bad ass. (And if so, please keep thinking that. I wouldn't want to lose my edge.) To the people who know me well, you know I cry at dog food commercials and during Michael DiMucci's solos at mass. My emotions are all larger than life - joy, rage, irritation, etc. LARGER than life.
It's easy to pour my heart out, hit save, edit, and publish. It's harder to be present while you read it. I have a writing coach, who I affectionately refer to as my 'Passive Aggressive Muse'. When I am in a class with Hannah, I am in a safe place where everyone in the room is equally exposed. We are joined together in this process: we laugh, we cry, we offer insight and support. There's no audience in the room. We're ALL 'in our underwear' so to speak...it's a level playing field.
The other day I stumbled across a campaign called #MyJihad. It was about taking the sting out of that word, by educating people on what it actually means, and by reclaiming it for good, not evil.
So, not to put too trivial a spin on this, MY JIHAD is to overcome my anxiety. To face my fears. And I really don't know WHAT they are...that I will faint? I've done that. (In public.) That I will throw up? Shit my pants? Fall off the stage...I've done that too, but it's a story for another day. There isn't ANYTHING to be afraid of, which is the biggest shit kicker of anxiety. Knowing that doesn't make you any less afraid.
Regardless, on Saturday, May 4, 2013, I will stand on stage at the Providence Public Library and read my piece, called "The Truth." I might throw up, shit myself, faint and fall off the stage. If you're in the audience, be sure to give me a standing O. I'll be picturing you all in your underwear anyway.
By the way, the original title of this post was, "Come See If I Throw Up, Shit My Pants, Faint and Fall Off the Stage LIVE - One Show Only!" The title "My Jihad" probably has me on some watch list. Great. More people watching me...where's my paper bag?