You've been in the waiting area for an hour now, watching as those who are called before you walk out of the judging room. Some of them are smiling smugly - they already know they got the part - others are on the verge of tears, hands shaking and voice wavering - they know they didn't. For some reason, each is equally intimidating. Your number is called and you walk into the room, being so careful to make sure you keep your head up, but not so high up that you appear overly self-assured.
You introduce yourself and trail off as you question the possibility that there is food in your teeth (even though you brushed, rinsed, and flossed three times right before you got here). You open your mouth to sing and everything is a blur and suddenly the judges are bidding you goodbye and, just like that, your audition is over and you have no idea if you're getting a callback or if they wrote you off the moment you opened your mouth.
At least, that's what an audition is for me.
Like most performers, I basically came out of the womb reciting Shakespeare, singing Barbara Streisand, and playing clarinet like Artie Shaw (wouldn't that be nice?)! Just kidding! I picked up the clarinet at age nine and started musical theatre at ten; I've since been through what feels like hundreds of auditions, but it has taken me years to figure out one vital detail:
This does not define you. And you really just can't let it.
The amount of detail that goes into casting a character, choosing a choir soloist, or selecting the first chair player is phenomenal.
The girl who got the lead probably just looked better with the guy cast as the romantic lead.
You may have Ella Fitzgerald's voice, but your choir director wants Billie Holiday.
The first chair player added a crescendo where you preferred the sound of a decrescendo.
You don't know why you didn't get it and you probably never will but, nine out of ten times, it's probably not important and likely has nothing to do with the level of raw talent exhibited.
So, to performers (or really anyone!) everywhere: whether it's what you choose to pursue for a career or it's just a passion in your free time, I hope you recognize that life isn't about giving the people what they want, but about finding the people that want you.