Written by Stephanie Renee on September 13, 2015
I can admit it. I do enjoy the spotlight. Just not on everybody’s stage.
Whether this is a lesson learned vicariously from years of hearing my family’s stories about their entertainment pursuits, or wisdom gleaned from my own turn in front of audiences around the globe, I am persnickety about invitations that earn my yeses. Some people are in dogged pursuit of ensuring that their time is valued with proper compensation. If my intentions were more income-driven, I am certain that would weed out some of the most problematic opportunities. But with me, it’s more of a gut thing. I have a finely-tuned sense of dread when there may be a lack of detailed agenda or disregard for time. If I show up, then I need it to count for something meaningful.
Giving a situation meaning doesn’t always mean that you are front-and-center. My years in musical theater taught me quite a bit about the value of being a member of the ensemble. There are a very limited number of people whose credits earn them the two-times-bigger font size on the playbill and corresponding bump up in salary. I’m clear about that. And when you are hired to play several parts, requiring three times the costume changes and perhaps even more actual stage time than the lead, you become acutely aware of your talent and your importance. You are less inclined to be jealous about the print ink given to the star, and focus instead on the gaping hole that would exist without your voice. Your presence. Your gift. And you make that opportunity matter.
My father did his darnedest to try and make me a fierce competitor. He recognized a familiar spark in me early in life and tried to fan it into something bigger, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I might get an occasional twinge to be the soloist, but I also find great satisfaction in singing with a really skilled group. I have admiration and respect for the work that Solomon and Nick do on the air at WURD, but I am rarely compelled to try and scoop them on stories or guests. My style and my strengths are my own, and aren’t well-served by trying to outdo anyone else when they’re in their own bag. Most days, it’s enough to be 100% Stephanie, with all of the challenges and blessings that entails.
2015 has challenged me to be more present in my own life. To firmly guide certain processes to a positive conclusion, and to stand down when the aggravation outweighs the benefit. But in either instance, I have say and sway in how things turn out. Stuff doesn’t just “happen.” It is our engagement, our level of personal investment, that dictates the outcome. We set the priorities and we give energy to the way things can and should turn out in the end. We choose to stay and play, or run away.
For the things that matter most, I am choosing today to raise my hand and my voice. Consciously stepping into those moments when my soul says yes.