Quote of the Day: Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild hearts against constant evaluation, especially our own. Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness 

I was at an awards ceremony last night, and I was struck by the conflicting feelings I had about it. When I first heard about it, I thought, No. No, no, no. There is too much competition in our world already. Why do we need to bring it into arts? I don’t watch American Idol for that very reason. And, I worried because we’re a small community, and the theater folks are an even smaller pocket of that community. They already compete for stage time, coveted roles, directing gigs, attention, and praise. Plus, you’re comparing a person who has had tons of experience on stage with someone who’s walking on for the first time.

The person sitting next to me at the table had similar concerns. And, yet, I heard him praise each nominee, especially the ones who were nominated for the same honors as he was. He whispered at one point, “That guy deserved it. His design was better than mine.” 

The room was crowded, the mood celebratory. People came dressed in their finest with smiles on their faces and hugs for each other. I witnessed the joy of coming together to celebrate a great year of making theater together, which is truly a cooperative endeavor. As one of the award-winners said in his acceptance speech, “We compete for roles, but once the cast is set, we work together.” 

It feels great to win awards. No doubt. I saw happiness and gratitude from each recipient of our newly named Lambie Award (named for a long-time theater director, Dennis Lamberson, who passed away several years ago).  Beyond the awards, I saw people connecting who might never have come together for any other reason. Theater creates common ground.  I watched directors from the three community theaters in our area visiting with each other, shaking hands, making plans, and seeing how we’re all connected. 

One of the hardest things for me to do is to walk into an event like this alone. I have to give myself all sorts of self talk to get ready, put on my coat, and drive to the venue. I find myself looking for a spot to park myself, to fade into the decor for a while and just observe. I search the crowd for friendly faces. Of course, it doesn’t take long, but for those few angst-filled moments, I wonder, “Why am I here?” and try to overcome the feelings of standing on the fringes. 

The people who invited me to sit with them at their table gave me a warm welcome and helped me overcome my insecurities. Then, I checked my phone and saw that another friend had texted that they’d save a seat for me at their table. I got hugs from people who were happy to see me, and I was thrilled to see a friend there who had moved away, but came back to receive her well-earned award. I believe that people who do community theater do so for the love of the art, for self-expression, and because they care about stories and how they connect us. As my friend Laura said in her acceptance speech, “We don’t know who’s in the audience and how our performance might affect them. Maybe they’re going through something and our performance gives them an escape.” Maybe something about the story we’re telling strikes a chord with them and it’s just what they need at that moment.

By the end of the night, I was glad that I gone. I even lingered longer than I thought I would so I could talk to my friend, reconnect with her, even if for a few minutes that night. I felt a little more connected to the people there, and so grateful to be part of a cooperative theater family. I’ll admit, I had some doubts, but last night’s event showed us all what it means to come together. I’d like to thank Kevin Yeager and his team of supporters for making that all happen. You’re doing great work. The award for outstanding community connections goes to you! Here is a link to an article about the event, including a list of the nominees in the Brainerd Dispatch

A few photos that I took from the event are below. John Erickson was also there taking many more pictures which will be available at a later date. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: When have you felt insecure? How did you gain more confidence? Do you need awards to prove your self-worth?