Two years ago today, I performed my last performance ever with a theater group that I spent 12 years of my life with. It was just a fun extra hobby, but it changed me forever.
I started the program when I was eight years old. I loved singing and I was pretty good at it, so my mom heard about this program and I decided to sign up. I loved singing and being on stage but off stage, I was extremely shy and lacked confidence. I didn't talk to anyone. When we had breaks during practice, I sat alone next to my bag. I was too afraid to talk to anyone. While being on stage didn't scare me quiet as much, my lack of confidence also showed on stage. I was always off beat from everyone else and clueless because I followed other people's steps. I didn't trust myself to memorize the dances and songs on my own.
By the time I was nine, I had my first "line" in the show. I was a duck and all I had to do was quack. However, I was so shy and socially anxious that my quack was quiet and barely audible. My parents practiced with me day and night until my quack was finally loud and confident. That quack helped me to begin to talk to people and by my third year I started talking to a few nice girls at practice.
The next year, I began doing narrations to introduce the next act. I memorized my first narration, "beauty and the beast" and got out there and nailed it. I was becoming more confident, but still, I only talked to two or three people that I knew well.
When I was thirteen, I moved from the junior group to the senior group. I was terrified. I would never keep up with all those older girls. I would have to talk to new people. I didn't want to move up to the older group.
However, that year ended up being the best and most enjoyable year in my 12 years with the program. I met tons of friends and my confidence was obvious on stage. It was obvious how much fun I was having by the confidence I had in my performances. It was the one and only year I cried after the show ended. No year ever matched that year again.
After that, my friend from the junior group who was a bit younger than me moved up to the senior group. She was a lot more outgoing than me, so she introduced me to a lot more people. I now talked to so many people that I could barely keep track.
For the next several years, the little kids now looked up to me. I was confident and having so much fun and I had friends. Like most things though, the program eventually came to an end. However, my confidence did not. I continue to enjoy singing and I now know that I am good at it. I am much less shy today and I still keep in touch with people from the group.
For some, a local theater group is just a fun hobby, but for me, it changed me forever. It helped me to find my confidence and learn that I am strong and talented. It helped me so much with my social anxiety. For that, I will be forever grateful.