For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Jul 24 2017
by Oonagh Kelly

My College Audition Experience (and Why It's OK If Yours Isn't the Same)

By Oonagh Kelly - Jul 24 2017
From a logical standpoint, auditions are an absolute no-brainer, that is, in the way that you should absolutely avoid them at any cost. You (the hypothetical auditionee) go up in front of a small group of strangers whose sole purpose in that moment is to judge every single little thing you do in the short time you’re in that room. No escape, no alternative. There is only going through that moment of intense judgement in order to get to your final goal.

At least, this is what it feels like when you’re the one auditioning, or, rather, that’s how I often felt (and still feel). My intention of being a theatre major in college meant that January and February were full of moments like these. As someone who often struggles with anxiety, both social and otherwise, my nerves in the hours before I entered the audition room were absolutely all over the place. I don’t think I ever really understood the concept of sweaty palms until I started auditioning for colleges. Trust me, it got pretty nasty.

However, the thing that caused me the most anxiety in the end wasn’t the fact that theatre professionals were watching me, or the knowledge that their perception of my performance could decide the fate of my career. No, it was the constant comparison that I was mentally making between myself and the rest of the auditionees.

Now, looking at the carefully crafted juxtaposition that I’ve made between these two concerns, you, the reader, may think to yourself, “My dear, you clearly had many more pressing things to worry about in this particular situation. Why focus on something as silly as someone else’s skills?” (I imagine that you’re British in this scenario for some reason.)

Well, my dear reader, that’s precisely the point. I imagine I’m not the only one who has done this, especially among my fellow theatre majors, and in hindsight, it definitely does seem really like a ridiculous thing to be worrying about. However, that worry can be stupidly overpowering in the moment. For instance, my very first in-person college audition experience was for New York University, and due to how nervous I was because it was freaking NYU, I started talking to people, because sitting in silence can often make nerves like that a lot worse for me. Despite the fact that I ended up having a lot of lovely conversations with these people from all over the country, the one thought that kept occupying my attention was about how I compared to them. She is gorgeous, they’re probably looking for someone more like her. His singing voice is insane, there’s no way I could match up. This guy’s been in professional productions since he was a kid! How can I compete with this?

In fact, I spent so much time thinking about how these people compared to me that I lost so much of what was making this time in my life special. Here I was, surrounded by people who were equally as passionate about something that I was planning to spend my life pursuing, and instead of actively listening to them and finding out their stories and making connections, I was in my own head, making up reasons why I wasn’t worthy of being in that room with them.

The fact of the matter is that you’re not competing with these kids. Just like you, they are nervous. Just like you, they are unsure of the outcome. And most importantly, just like you, they are human. The fact that they have different skills than you do doesn’t mean anything. Each of us brings something to the table. The fact that you’ve made it into that audition room at all means that you are meant to be there. And you are going knock it out of the park.

If you happen to feel none of these emotions and you find your experience to be completely different, that’s OK, too. Every single auditionee’s experience is different, hence the continued excitement for them. Just prepare yourself and trust your gut.

No matter what, remember the most important thing of all: You’re a star.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Oonagh Kelly - Elon University

Oonagh Kelly is a freshman who is currently pursuing a BFA in Acting at Elon University, with a possible double major in Arts Administration. She knows that you're probably struggling to pronounce her first name and would like you to understand that you are definitely not the only one. Some of her favorite pastimes include forcing people to watch movies that she likes, making cups of tea, and judging people by their zodiac signs (Aries, by the way). If you're interested in keeping up with her, follow her on Twitter @oonthegoon!

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