Life Lessons from TV Show Try-Outs

Back in July, I submitted a contestant application video for Wheel of Fortune. On October 1st, I received an email inviting me to attend a local audition. The email also happened to mention that they were looking for contestants for Best Friends Week, so we were allowed to bring a best friend along to the audition. Last week, my best friend, Mel, and I fulfilled a dream we’ve had since becoming friends over 20 years ago and auditioned together for Wheel of Fortune. I don’t yet know if I/we will be invited to be contestants on the show, but, regardless, this experience has served as an important reminder for me to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Whether they’re big or small, serious or silly, scary or comfortable, we get one life to live in the best way we can. So, if we are given an opportunity to experience something positive that we may never again have the opportunity to experience, in this our one and only life, we’ve just got to go for it.

Mel and I auditioned for a television show once before (we were in our late 20s, I think). A soap opera. Mind you, I can’t act at all, nor do I have any interest in doing so. But, when a soap opera holds open auditions at a local Boscov’s, you just do it because how many people do you know who can say they’ve auditioned for a soap opera? It was an experience; one that didn’t cost us anything, and gave us some laughs and a story to tell for years to come. While I certainly have no acting ability, I am legitimately good at solving Wheel of Fortune puzzles, at least from the safety of my couch (although I think we did well in the audition, too), so, I was much less nervous this time around. I remember standing in that line wrapping around multiple floors of Boscov’s shaking with fear inside as I repeated the couple of lines over and over in my head. Why I even bothered to be nervous is beyond me. In both cases, the bottom line is that there were literally no stakes. What’s there to be nervous about when there’s nothing to lose?  This is an important life lesson, I think; one that I wish I’d really embodied much earlier. But, that’s kind of the thing about life lessons…you tend to learn them when it FEELS too late to really take advantage of them. I’m not saying it’s actually too late. It just feels like it is because you’ve already wasted time not knowing, not understanding, or not listening to them. Especially now, I’m a lot more comfortable with the prospect of making an ass out of myself than I used to be. I’m rather interesting, if I do say so myself, because, while I have terrible social anxiety, I really don’t have a problem getting up in front of a crowd. It’s the more intimate interactions that make me want to run away.

Anyway, my point is this…When fear is the only thing standing in the way of you taking advantage of an exciting, interesting, or fun opportunity, ask yourself, “What do I have to lose?” If the answer is “nothing,” go for it. At the very least, you’ll walk away with a story to tell and one less “what if” to wonder about. So go ahead, spin the metaphorical wheel of fortune. You just might land on the million. 



What the What is My What?

I am almost 38 years old and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a pretty clear picture of WHO I want to be, but that person is financially secure and not drowning in debt. That is the part I struggle with. How do I get to that place without succumbing to the everydayness (sure, that’s a word) and apathy of it? How do I find something that lights my soul on fire (because, really, isn’t that what everyone is ultimately looking for) AND pays the bills? When I hear people say things like, “My job doesn’t even feel like work because I love what I do so much,” I want to barf all over their paycheck. I mean, good for you. Really. But I’m bitter and jealous and I’m allowed to be. So here is the part where self-help gurus everywhere tell me anything is possible if you want it badly enough, work hard enough, and believe in yourself. It IS possible to achieve your goals and live your dreams. Well, the truth is, I believe that. The problem, however, is that I have no identifiable goals and dreams other than raising my son well (but I’m putting a check mark next to that one already because it’s a given and, unfortunately, doesn’t pay very well), and being financially secure, preferably while also having more time to spend with my Roo (that’s my son, for those of you just joining the party).

Let’s take a quick detour to the land of goals, shall we? How many times have you been advised to set “SMART” goals? In case you are one of the lucky ones who have never had to do this, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. I get it. I get why that makes sense. But, man, I don’t know if I’ve ever rolled my eyes harder.  And maybe it’s just me. Maybe most people have goals they can actually define in this way. Maybe I’ve just never cared about anything enough or wanted anything badly enough to even take the time to set the goal. I read personal development books (that term sounds so much more sophisticated than “self-help”) and listen to podcasts and everyone is talking about goals, goals, goals and how to find your path to achieving them. Meanwhile, I’m just over here screaming, “But how the living F do I know what I even want to do???”  Sure, I’ve had fluctuating dreams; for about two weeks, I was really passionate about opening a non-profit under Dave Eggers’ 826 model, and for a while I only wanted to work with dogs (because, ya know…humans). Recently, I’ve been interested in social media marketing. But nothing sticks. Nothing has really had a hold on me.

Having a child has changed how I perceive time and its value and, suddenly, I so strongly want something else. But there’s no point in a why if there’s no what to apply it to. (Huh?… Stay with me here) My point is, I don’t know how much therapy, soul-searching, and reflection it’s supposed to take to figure this out. I am inspired by people like Rachel Hollis (who, incidentally, I have developed an enormous platonic crush on) who do their job well and light a fire under my ass. I’m excited to go to the PA Conference for Women next week because that’s how I felt when I left the conference last year. Sure, the books and the podcasts and the conferences help me find the tools, or the how.  So, I’ve got my why, I’ve got my how, but what the what is my what?!? I feel like this is typically the first piece of the puzzle for people, but, for me, this piece must have slid between the cracks of the couch or jumped into the dark hole where all the missing socks go. Never stop searching, though. Just like those socks, it’s gotta be there somewhere. Holler if ya hear me. 😉