Maybe I’ve shared this before:
Sophomore year of high school, I was in the school play. At the time, I was likely also simultaneously involved with three to five other extracurricular activities. The only thing that scared me more than not getting into college was not earning enough scholarships to pay for it. So, I attempted to do everything. Being over-scheduled, over-stressed, and over-anxious caused me to over sleep the day of our Saturday matinee.
I ended up racing to the theater in a pair of old sweatpants and a tee shirt. And nothing else.
My character required multiple wardrobe changes and in one scene I had to wear this floor length dress (that was just slightly too big for me) with slits up both sides. It was during a scene – in that slightly too big, slit up the sides dress – that a fellow co-star innocently pulled a chair out from under me. I ended up bare bummed on the stage, with my legs, just for a moment looking like a V.
God help the two freshmen boys that were sitting in the front row.
Regardless (over the seemingly never-ending laughter of the entire small town), I delivered my lines. The show went on. I desperately wanted to skip school the following Monday, but I was too nervous to even ask my Mom. To school I went. The show went on.
This morning, as I watched what happened at the near end of the Oscars, I started thinking that maybe it’s the rigidity of the whole MUST go on thing, that trip us up so badly.
Watch the footage from last night’s live broadcast. It’s obvious from the moment Warren Beatty opens the red envelope that he’s very, very confused. But, instead of admitting it – breaking the fourth wall, and saying: I’m confused – he quickly hands the problem off to his co-presenter, Faye Dunaway. And she immediately jumps into “fix it,” mode.
Let me be clear: I’m not judging Warren or Faye. Even with only about a decade of live radio and television experience on my CV, I’m quite aware of the intense pressure to make the wheels falling off look like it’s all a part of the plan. Pros can roll. It’s what they do…but, maybe (no matter our status, professional or amateur) we shouldn’t lose touch of when it’s okay (perfectly and lovingly okay) to stop.
At 15, if I had enough confidence to just stop freaking out and simply tell the all-mighty Director of the Conant High School presentation of Our Miss Brooks that I absolutely had to get something from home before going on stage, he likely would’ve rolled his eyes…before delaying the curtain by 10-minutes. Sure that chair still probably would’ve been pulled out from under me…but my private parts, would’ve remained…well, private.
And, my guess is that if Warren had read the contents of that envelope, and instead of just acting confused, actually admitted to being so by saying something like: “I’m confused. Something’s not right. We need some help, here.” Help would’ve come running. Don’t get me wrong; a scene still would’ve ensued, but maybe not one that included announcing the wrong winner so publicly.
Look, we’re human.
So, we will continue to make mistakes in front of the whole school, and the whole town, and the whole world wide web…and in addition to honing our kindness and forgiveness, maybe we can also learn how to be okay when we break the rules and ask for what we really need to make whatever we have going on – go just a little bit better.