Wherever you’re at right now, you’re not ready.
You’re not ready for the reality of your situation. You’re not ready for the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s inevitable if you decide to take a swing at this thing. You’re not ready for another pile of cat vomit directly underneath your right foot. You’re not ready to lose. And you’re sure as hell not ready to win.
You’re not ready to fall on your face or spend hours thinking about how it could have all gone differently. You’re also not ready to get what you want because you’re afraid of those snarky messages from the people you call friends who think you don’t deserve it. You’re not ready to tell your mom. Or him. Or her.
You’re. Not. Ready.
Congratulations. Welcome to the rest of humanity because no one else is fucking ready, either.
That’s because being ready is bullshit.
You can be prepared. Do your homework, learn your lines, study-up, know your shit and be completely fed up with the status quo.
But you’re never ready for the feeling that comes as you step up to take the swing.
So what if, instead of focusing on being ready, you focused on being alive?
Because the feelings you have right now — the stress and the fear and the worry and the <fill this blank in with dumb feeling shit that doesn’t make you feel good> — are making you dead inside.
You’re so worried about being ready that you’re forgetting to live.
I’ve spent the past two weeks of my life getting ready for a 5-minute audition I had yesterday. I had voice lessons, walked around my neighborhood singing like a crazy person while walking my dogs, sang in my car with a guitar track on repeat, and…well, let’s just say that I was more than stressed. Why? Because I’d never sung in front of people before. Ever. Except for this one line I had in this musical number in a show not a lot of people went to a few years ago and I basically just yelled it on-key so volume made up for the talent gap, y’know?
And I was going to be walking into a room with three people in it:
- A guy who created a hit TV series you’ve all heard of who was writing this new musical
- A guy who wrote the songs for the show who was sitting at the Grammys a week ago, as a nominee
- The casting director, who got my name on referral from a friend (a friend who stands to look like an asshole if I’m a total shit show)
No pressure at all, right?
I had a great session with my voice coach on Sunday morning and I felt good about my music. Then, I had two and a half days to remind myself what a piece of shit I was and who the hell was I to walk into that room with those people in it and let anything powered by air come out of my mouth?
I was anything but ready. But then, I did something that sounds completely silly. I listened to a meditation from a smart lady named Amy Jo Berman (she ran casting at HBO for over a decade) while I was on the treadmill yesterday morning and she said something to the effect of:
“What if today, you decided to have an adventure? What if this was fun? And what if the people you met today are playmates, and you could play like you did when you were a kid?”
And a lightbulb went off in my head.
Holy shit. I’d completely forgotten, in this entire process, to have fun.
So for the rest of the day yesterday, I had an adventure. I came home and ditched what I had totally fussed over to wear to the audition. I put on my wavy Texas hair (which I love), my Corral cowboy boots, skipped the bra and said, “Yeah — this is me.” I got in the car, drove to the audition, sat in the waiting area, the casting director came out and said, “Hi Erika!” because she recognized me from Facebook, and when she called me into that room I wasn’t ready.
I wasn’t ready at all.
But I was going to have fun, do ME, and have a goddamned adventure.
And I did.
I did a monologue I love, cranked out an a cappella version of Bobby McGee that made Grammy guy whip out his guitar and play along with me, and sang his song. They said thank you and I left.
Because you know what I got to do yesterday? I got to sing a song by a dude who was at the Grammys as a nominee — with him playing the guitar for me.
I got to sing in front of people and no one died. Most importantly, me.
I got to do something I’d never done before, for people I’d never met before.
And I wasn’t ready to do any of that.
And I’m sure as hell not ready to do it all again. But I would in an instant.
Because I don’t know what I sounded like in that room, but all of ’em bopped along, heads bobbing, as I sang Bobby and I could go over all of it and give you a list of 34 ways I could have been more ready.
But seriously. To hell with being ready. I want the adventure. The fun. I want to play and remember what it was like when I gave less of a fuck about what people thought about what I do and who I am. I want less focus on ready in my life and more on heart and soul, and the ability I have to put all of me into something.
And knowing ME isn’t pretty and it’s pretty much a mess. But it’s a damn fine mess when I get my hair all did and put the boots I love so much on my size 8 feet and can walk into a joint in my own skin.
You’re not ready. You never will be. And neither will I.
But you can damn well be prepared, let all the bullshit go, and have some fun. Figure out what it was like when you felt happy all those decades ago. The moments you believed you were a lady astronaut on the moon and the kid next door was driving (yeah, driving) the lunar module. When you were a ballerina scientist who developed a new kind of ballet shoes, even though they were just scotch tape and some cardboard and it took a week to get the adhesive off your feet. When you were a country music star and you could see the audience of 20,000 through the floodlights on the stage just enough to remember that they were there for you.
Baby, you’ll never be ready. But there are things in life worth a whole lot more than being ready.
And what would your life look like if you put your energy there instead of where you’ve been putting it?
So, while some of you already saw this over on Facebook, here’s a little Janis Joplin for you. I thought she was my spirit animal until I remember she dies of a heroin overdose. Which prompted me to get a new spirit animal. But she helps me be a more OUT LOUD version of me. Thanks for that, Janis. I wasn’t ready to record this. But I did. And it was fun.
(Oh, and stalk me on Instagram at @erikadnapo if you’re not already.)
(If you’re reading this via email and the Instagram video didn’t come through, click right here.)