Recently, I shared phenomenal news. My daughter was hired as part of the cast of After Midnight aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line. This is a first for cruise ships – presenting actual Broadway performances. This is a first for my daughter – her first long term contract as a professional performer. Believe me. The accomplishment did not happen overnight.
To understand our journey, you must first know my daughter.
Bright, beautiful and talented, The Diva, as I affectionately call her, has not had an easy journey. Like most teenagers, she has never had the ability to see herself or value her full worth. While attending the prestigious Booker T. Washington High School prepared her technically for the world of performance, it did not prepare her for the reality of the world of dance beyond high school. I do not say that to place blame. It is what it is. How do you tell 600 students all in the pursuit of their dreams that there are 10 times that number of others out there wishing and hoping for the same thing that you are and make them believe it?
College life was not a smooth transition. After getting it wrong initially in her choice for higher ed, and two years grappling with that reality, she transitioned to a healthier environment where her skill and her psyche were nurtured. The Diva flourished and grew in her art form. However, her confidence had been shattered and rebuilding it would take time. She blossomed her senior year in college, was cast in all four of the final dance works (including a key role in Bill T. Jones’ D-Man in the Waters) for the Spring Concert. At this point, I just knew that all was well in the world and life of The Diva and she was ready for the world.
Then she came home.
As a mother, you know when something is just not quite right. From the very beginning, I sensed that with her. She proclaimed her next step in life would be to move to New York and began making preparations. The Diva flew to New York for auditions – each time making it to the end, but not quite getting the gig. She applied for employment, but found that searching from outside the city proved to be fruitless. With each attempt to move forward, I noticed a hesitation and a slight resistance to the change that such a move would create. The hesitation quickly became doubt. The doubt then became a lack of confidence and self esteem.
It was a wise and wonderful friend who suggested a Plan B. Plan B had already been suggested by the parents – but you know how it is when you have kids who think you know nothing.
Plan B created a safe space in time. Plan B involved settling in at home, working and saving enough to make the move to New York with comfort and a better constructed plan. So, The Diva began to work in retail locally and to develop her plan. While The Diva was home, we discussed her past trials and her triumphs. We developed a better constructed plan for the move to New York. Six months later, she announced that she was prepared and ready. We sent her with our blessings and many prayers.
Thus began her new adventure. She immediately found employment within her first week there, In fact, she accepted 2 jobs – which was too much she discovered later. But, she was on a high from the acceptance. She discovered the studios for taking classes and began to network for opportunities.The audition season was coming soon and she was determined to be ready.
She did her research about each opportunity and began auditioning. She auditioned. And auditioned some more. And auditioned some more. Each time, it was a “no.” With each audition came the cycle of highs (getting to the end) and then lows (not getting selected). A lifetime of rejections seemed to be compounded and steadily affecting her ability to move forward. With each phone call, I tried to encourage her from afar. I reminded her that in the midst of “no’s” somewhere, there would be a “yes” and to keep trying. But each month, I could feel her falling deeper and deeper into despair.
I began to quietly speak to her spirit of doubt. In listening, I was able to discern her fears and the source of those fears. I asked her, “where is your faith?” I was not ready for the response. She said to me, “I have none.”
This shattered my very being. It made me angry. It frightened me. Most of all, it made me feel as if I had not prepared my child for this stage of her life. What did I miss? We attended and were active in church. She participated in children’s and youth activities. I was not ready for her to say this. My child was on the other side of the country, far away from home and I felt helpless.
Then, I was reminded of a story. So I asked her, “Have you ever seen a mustard seed?” She said, “no.” So I told her to find one the next time that she is in the grocery store. I told her that a mustard seed is just a tiny little thing. But from that seed comes a whole lot. I told her about how God only requires us to have a little faith in Him, and He will do the rest. I encouraged her to find just that little bit to hold onto.
I wasn’t sure if she heard me. I didn’t know if she had written me off and said, “oh there she goes again with that Bible stuff.” But I knew that I had planted the seed.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. The opportunity presented itself for the audition for the Cruise. A friend and former Booker T. Washington alum has recommended her for the audition that is “invitation only.” She goes to the audition and makes it to the very end and is waiting for the decision.
So I asked her, “how did it go.” She said, “Very well. I really really want this one and feel like it’s mine. And I have tried to have faith like you said.I have been praying”
Hallelujah!The tears began to pour down my face. Even if she did not get this one, her faith had been restored.
I thank God that she did indeed receive the blessing. There are still obstacles to overcome, but I am praising God in advance for this small miracle of faith and her journey forward. So if you see me smiling, there is a reason.
The Diva’s story is a story not unlike the stories of those that choose performing arts as a profession. It is a common story. However, stories of triumph should be shared if for no other reason than to give hope to the hopeless.
I wish you peace!