“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Of course, it is my duty as a mother to push my children to get up after they have failed, fallen or humiliated themselves at some endeavor. My eldest, Chiara, three times running for student council, losing horribly the first two years, only to win the third year by a self-proclaimed “default” (no one else ran for the position). She clenched a seat 8th-grade year, against a true living competitor (I was so proud). I remember too well her early tennis matches, double faults, no points, careless court stumbles. My son, Ollie, also a tennis player…. literally getting his butt kicked by the “tennis ninja”. Stands filled with ogling parents and he was absolutely defeated, not ONE point. I could barely look from the sidelines because I knew the tears would come fast and furious. How many tearful screaming matches did we have because “no I am never going out there again, its utter humiliation!”?
Three horribly embarrassing stories, which ultimately defined my character.
How to get them up again? I told them over and over again about my three horribly embarrassing stories, which they no doubt can recite verbatim at this point. Stories that ultimately defined my character. I will humbly reprise them for you.
Lesson one. Apparently, no one ever told me that while I may have been able to carry a tune I was hardly Julie Andrews. I felt it perfectly obvious that I should receive the music scholarship at my high school. So on the day of tryouts, undaunted, I brought my mother and sister to my audition. Waiting confidently amongst all of my peers and scholarship hopefuls I was called into sing for Sr. Mary Josephine. I sauntered into the small music studio with cardboard thin walls behind my stone-faced arbiter. She sat down and began to play “Silent Night”. Well, what can I say? My little voice not only disgraced me but due to the gossamer walls, my humiliation was laid bare for all. Trying to cobble together my self-esteem, after a performance that could only be bested by Yoko Ono herself, I walked out only to find my family, my clan, my tribe prostrated by laughter.
Lesson two. To add insult to injury, every year of high school I tried out for the school play. And every year while on stage in front of all the other “audition-ers” I got up, prepared song in hand and opened my mouth….and nothing, absolutely not a sound escaped my mouth. Oh, sometimes a cacophonous squeak or scratch would find its way out but mostly nothing. Nothing. I think I had balls enough one or two of those years to say I needed a minute to collect myself, only to repeat this uncomfortable scene for an audience aghast. Needless to say, I NEVER made the play. But senior year, yet determined, or exceptionally dim-witted, I tried again. This time something did come out. And do you know what? That Sr. Mary Josephine, my nemesis, my petty tyrant, do you know what she said to me? She said, and I quote, “Stephanie, honey, you have such a lovely voice, why have you never tried out for the play before?”. Really?
From the aforementioned stories you can gather I had wanted to be an actress/singer for most of my life.
The coup d’etat, lesson three. Finally, living in New York and studying acting seriously I was in a great little performance that I had worked on for months. Opening day came of my off-off (possibly another “off”) Broadway gallery show. I invited my family to come up from Philadelphia to see my performance, my boyfriend was there, my roommate and several friends. I was nervous but excited. It was my scene, just me and one other actor on stage. I went up on a line. And there I stood like a freakin’ deer caught in the headlights. I froze, brain blank, heart racing like I was being attacked by a serial killer, frozen, struck dumb and apparently deaf. From behind the curtain, my poor director threw me a line to try to salvage this performance tsunami. He could have been speaking Chinese because it did not register. The curtain finally came down after what seemed like an eternity. I ran to my dressing room, utterly disgraced and gutted. I sat in that dressing room and cried for an hour or two. I couldn’t show my face, I couldn’t bear to have anyone try to assuage my humiliation.
All the years of getting up again and again while doing something that wasn’t in my wheelhouse of tricks taught me valuable lessons: humility, grit and determination.
I know it would seem to a more astute being an obvious sign from the heavens that perhaps this was not something for which I was cut out. But my ego was telling me this is what you always wanted, you have been dreaming about this for twenty-six years! Lord knows I was willing to put myself out there. Why hadn’t it happened for me? It was then I had an epiphany. I had many other interests that I hadn’t pursued because I was so stuck on acting; ego seeking fame and fortune. I decided I would go back out there and finish my show the next night. But I knew I had to give the other passions I had one year of my life, and I would be back to acting. A one year break to try something new. I never went back to acting but I also never looked back. I can say that that is where my life began.
I took a year to volunteer abroad, went on to start my own clothing line that sold in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus and ultimately a boutique line at Target. I started a family and built a successful photo studio with my husband. I had three children and I designed interiors on the side. The creative is there and alive but pursuing different ventures.
While I am not an actress today and there is no true full circle moment, I did realize a couple things: all the years of getting up again and again while doing something that wasn’t in my wheelhouse of tricks taught me valuable lessons. It taught me humility, grit and determination, qualities that I use every day, in every facet of my life. Through trial and error, I also learned to recognize my God-given talents. I realized some things come easily to me. Others skills will be a challenge.
Hone the talents you are given, they are the places where you will certainly shine. @Stephanie_boye (Click to Tweet!)
Work diligently and undaunted toward the goals & dreams that you may have in your heart but are not your strong suit. That passion will also pay off and more importantly satisfy the heart. Finally, do not limit your dreams…we are multi-faceted beings and a career u-turn can lead to a beautiful place.
This is usually the point in the kid lecture where I make them pull out their phones and recite my favorite of all quotes…
The Man In The Arena
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
Stephanie Boye is a mom, an entrepreneur, a creative, and most importantly a seeker. She founded the chic maternity line Chiarakruza. She and her husband started a boutique photo studio in Philadelphia, Tyler Boye Photography.
Image courtesy of Noah Hinton.