by Anna Jacobi
Anna is a former student at the Acting Studio and now one of our fabulous instructors! She has just returned back home after spending a year abroad entertaining thousands through the Disney Cruise Line. She shared this story with us to remind young students there is always a way to find positive growth from our experiences.
The lessons we take from so-called “failure” can be fundamental to later success, and trust me, I used to be quite successful at failing. I tried everything from ice-skating and horseback riding to softball and basketball. I felt defeated constantly and thought, “Well, what the heck am I supposed to do now?” But little did I know that the brokenness I experienced from these “failures” would lead me to later success.
I entered high school among those who already had their lives planned from college to retirement. I tried to find a new activity I could be passionate about, but the possibility of failing again invaded my thoughts; the fear of rejection paralyzed me.
Soon I found out a local theatre was going to be doing Peter Pan that summer—any guesses as to where that was? At this point, trying new activities was a total joke, but I decided I could never do anything with my life if I continued to hide behind fear of failure. I mustered up all my courage as I stood in front of the casting directors who would analyze every note I sang and every line I spoke. After wondering if this risk was worth it, I found myself rehearsing inside four green walls. The more time I spent under the warmth of the stage lights, the more I realized that had I not experienced so much “defeat” in my early years I wouldn’t have had an amazing several years at the Studio, or the opportunity to sail around the world performing for Mickey Mouse, or the chance to be back inside the green walls as a staff member just a few years after graduation.
One thing I have come to believe over the years is that there is no such thing as failure; we are simply experiencing moments that will shape us and push us toward our dreams. I wouldn’t be a true musical theatre lover unless I quoted a musical to prove my point, so here’s a lyric from Wicked: “And we are led to those who help most to grow, if we let them.” While this lyric is actually talking about friendship, I believe it can also be applied to moments we experience as well. We are led to experiences in this life that help us most to grow as a person, performer, friend, daughter/son, parent, or significant other even if we are met with “failure”—but we have to let them help us grow. We cannot afford to let an audition we get cut from, a voice crack during our big solo, a face plant during an impressive dance number, a bad grade in a class we enjoy, or pursuing something that doesn’t go exactly as we wanted it to derail us from our dreams. We must be comfortable with taking chances, and having taken that first chance to stand in front those casting directors many years ago has equipped me to be able to take more risks, and be okay with “failures.” I have faced a lot of defeat in my life thus far; however, I have learned I must continue to put myself out there, as I cannot expect to grow if I don’t. I am so grateful to have experienced moments of defeat, as many doors have opened that would have remained shut had I not experienced “failure”; and if asked to do it all over again, there is not a thing I would change.
Every audition, dance class, and voice lesson gives you the opportunity to perform, even without the sets and costumes and stage lights. Every friendship can teach us something about ourselves. And every time something does not go exactly as planned, be able to shrug your shoulders and say, “Okay, so what’s next?” or “How do I learn from what I just experienced?” Take the opportunity to grow from your “failure,” and run with it.