Adulthood cynicism leads to complacency


Abby Kempf

When I was in sixth grade a local theater company announced it was holding auditions for The Diary of Anne Frank. I had previously been in three shows, but I had never had so much as a speaking part. But being stubborn and idealistic, I was determined to play Anne Frank. Several of my friends held the same hopes, many who had played big roles in the past. My mother had told me not to be disappointed when I didn’t get the part, that I would get a good part one day, but I was too inexperienced to beat out the other girls for this production. Of course, being young and untouched by the overwhelming cynicism of the adult world, I didn’t listen to her words for a second.
I walked into the audition and was immediately struck with the sight of at least thirty kids waiting to audition, half of them appearing to be girls my age, obviously hoping for the same role as me. I took my place in line and waited. I was not nervous to deliver my monologue at home when I rehearsed hundreds of times, but as I approached the team of directors my heart began to beat as if I was running the 100 meter dash. I struggled to catch my breath as I spit out the first words. But as soon as I was talking, my heart settled and my breathing returned to normal. When I had finished the monologue I felt truly at peace, like I had done well.
[quote]I truly believe that I received the part because of my optimism in the face of adversity.[/quote] Then the next, grueling step began. The directors selected readings from the script for us to perform with other the actors, to see our chemistry with each other and see how we acted on the fly. During one of my first scenes a director corrected my acting, saying it was not how a girl in Anne’s time period would have acted. I inhaled sharply; I had messed up. I could have lost the role. But I quickly expelled all those negative thoughts, nodded politely, and continued, keeping her note in mind.
After the auditions I waited for two days, which seemed like two years at the time. Finally the cast list was sent out. I practically stopped breathing as I opened the email and frantically searched for Anne’s name. Written across from her name was mine. I had done it. I had gotten the part.
Some people might say I got the part because I took the director’s note, others might say my acting was simply superior to the other prospective actors, and still others might say the directors thought I looked good for the part. I would disagree with all of these statements though. I truly believe that I received the part because of my optimism in the face of adversity.
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In reality, I was not well positioned to receive the part. I was inexperienced; I had no training and no big parts under my belt to prove my ability. My own mother agreed that I was not equipped to play the infamous Anne Frank. During my audition I had blundered, while other girls had not faltered once.
I could have given up when I was faced with these setbacks. I could have said, “You’re right. I am not good enough.” But I never did. I held on to my belief that I could truly accomplish my goal if I practiced and put my whole being into the audition.
I still hold this belief today. It has always been a dream of mine to change the world through theater, because my world was changed by theater. I do not think I am special in this hunger to change the world. Everyone has a little fire in them that wants to truly make a difference. What I am in special in is my retention of optimism as I have grown.
Everyone has the ability to foster change and make things better, even if just for one person. What everyone does not have is optimism. Without this essential ingredient, when faced with adversity people give up on their dreams. If everyone could concentrate on the good and the possibility, instead of the evil and impossibility, the world might be a little better. I think optimism is a priority because without it we settle in complacency, leading mundane lives and allowing our best to be overshadowed by our “OK.”
What has optimism helped you achieve? Leave your comments below.