To Be Missed

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

“We won’t miss you anyway.” -My drama teacher’s response after I told him that I wasn’t going to audition for his next superior musical.

When I got home, I cried—not just from embarrassment—but because his words validated something I had known for a while. I was inadequate on the stage.

Although I wanted to be an entertainer from a young age, my love for the stage reached its peak during my debut in the school’s production of Annie. After that, my desire to be an actress grew. Every year, I walked into the audition with a number on my shirt and a mask of confidence, but until high school, I didn’t see my name on the list. I believed the director when he said, “If you don’t make the play, don’t get upset. Some people just don’t have the right look for the show. Sometimes, we just have a hard time choosing from all the people who audition!” His statements sounded better than the voice in my head that shouted, “You’re not good enough.” I chose to ignore that voice because I knew that theater was my calling.

Or, was it?

Before my drama teacher declared his words that confirmed my worries, he posted my name on the cast list for Mary Poppins. Hopefully my joyful scream wasn’t too loud. I wanted to scream again when I realized that after rehearsing for twelve hours a week, I would perform for five minutes in the three-hour show.

The next year during Tarzan, the voice in my head became the voice of my director.

“Miranda, you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.”

“Miranda, you look terrible.”

“Miranda, you’re not good enough.”

I dismissed his comments as “constructive criticism.” Now, I realize that I should have listened to them. When I finally did—when I replaced my rehearsing hours with studying hours—I discovered my true passion. It had always been there.

When I signed up for AP Biology, the voice in my head started repeating its favorite line. That time, it was wrong. My late nights of studying paid off in high grades and scientific understanding, and I knew that my new passion was one I should pursue. The younger me spent too much time trying to cultivate a passion that didn’t align with my natural skills. As hard as I worked, as much as I rehearsed, I would never be the star of the show.

After I stopped trying to force my way into the spotlight, I learned that I could shine academically. In the theater, my lack of ability caused me to fall short; in the classroom, I found the spotlight that I craved. So, I signed up for more challenging classes, bought some books, went to medical camp, fell in love. Instead of losing sleep from late-night rehearsals, I want to lose sleep learning about brain surgery and medical anomalies and clinical trials. Why should I be an adequate actress when I could be an extraordinary doctor?

My director probably doesn’t miss me, but I am glad he spoke those harsh words. Without them, I would likely be rehearsing in vain, ignoring my real talent. Because he sent me home in tears, I discovered the best version of myself – the version that, hopefully, people will miss.

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