Letters to Eleanor: When tryouts don’t go your way

I tell you what. It wasn’t even a month ago that this text buzzed in from one of the sorority sister of mine who met you when we Spring Break-d our way up to Nashville.

“Hey there! It was great seeing you and meeting your kids. I told Rett over the phone that day, but thought I should share with you, too. Ella blew me away. At 13, she is more confident, comfortable and socially mature than I ever was. I saw you posted a letter to her today; I’d love for Ella to write letters to us. Have you ever considered that perspective? I honestly think I could learn from Ella. ☺️ Aren’t we all just older versions of humans who don’t really know what we are doing?”

Her words turned out to be prophetic for me two nights ago, when the cast list email came out for a local community theatre program you’d worked so hard to prepare for. There we were, leaving the Rangers game, stoked from their win over the Phillies, and I could see you concentrating on your phone.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?”

“The cast list just came out.”

“Omigosh! Did you make it?”

“I’m not sure yet – I’m still reading through all the names.”

That’s when I pulled out my phone and found the cast email. I skimmed it lightning fast, hoping to reach the conclusion before you did. I got excited when I saw someone with the same first name as you, but her last name wasn’t ours.

Then I reached the end of the list. I read it again, in case I’d made a mistake. I hadn’t. Neither had you.

“I’m so sorry baby.”

“I mean, I’m disappointed, of course, but it’s ok.”

We talked more about it off and on on our way to the car, and again on the ride home.

I was trying to hide it, but I was mad on your behalf. You, on the other hand, were nothing but grace-filled, with a healthy sense of humor about it all.

“I didn’t tell them this, but I didn’t want to have to stand on the stage and bark like a dog.”

I totally respect that POV, even though if you had been cast in that role, we’d gladly have come to support you, with flowers and love to boot. I mean, you will always be our favorite “Number 1 Tree” a la The Secret Garden!

As your mama though, I have a slightly different POV (that is, when my upset about your disappointment subsided, and logical thinking prevailed once again).

In auditions, tryouts and in life, you surely won’t make every team or squad or cast you go out for, and that’s a good thing, even though it can really sting at the time. Also in life, you might have aspirations to be the lead but instead you are cast in a supporting role, all too often a super unglamorous one (i.e., the barking dog). That’s a mighty good thing, even though it can feel a bit humiliating at the time.

These are the experiences that molded my character for the better, as they do for everyone willing to learn from them. The same holds true for you, Boo.

From time to time I see little affirmations floating around on social media along these lines, and this one stuck with me. “You’re not being rejected. You’re being redirected.” Remember that, would you?

But back to the point of this Letter. Holy Moses, girlfriend.

There I was all horsy that you hadn’t been cast and what a lesson you taught me, even though you’re like three decades less life experienced than me.

So what that you didn’t get cast this time around? There will always be other shows. I mean, you’re already doing Sleeping Beauty this weekend for Heaven’s sakes!

Bottom line, you’re not going to have chemistry with every artistic director you encounter. Your chops at the time may not be what they are looking for, and that’s not a deficiency on your part. It’s part of the winnowing process of figuring out who you are, what you’re good at, what you’re willing to put in the work for to get even better at, and then being at peace when the chips fall where they may.

I say it’s also about listening for God’s voice as He works within you to bring out what He created you to be and to do. When the door slams shut, it can hurt – a lot. Don’t let the Enemy strike, because that’s when he’ll try, attempting to sow seeds of bitterness, insecurity, jealousy and all sorts of awfully unhelpful mental gremlins.

I firmly believe that every single life experience is shaping us ultimately for the better (at least, when I’m not feeling in-the-moment flustered haha!) And girlfriend, I am sure grateful that you are here to remind me of that when my all too human mama heart gets feisty.

I love you times infinity!

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