When my high school announced a Grease musical, several of my close friends auditioned and I braced myself for months of build-up and excitment for a show I wasn't brave enough to try out for.
Fear of rejection, fear of mockery, fear of failure.
All of them stood in my way.
When my oldest daughter was invited to audition for a competitive dance team a few years ago, it caught me off guard. I wasn't sure I should put her in front of the things I feared most, especially knowing how much she feared them, too.
But I had seen how music and dance filled her heart and my answer was clear.
The gifts her teachers and teammates have given her since she joined are beyond description. When she dances across a stage, she is beautiful in body and spirit. It's the most a parent could hope for their child.
The realization it wouldn't have crossed my mind to have her audition really affected me. There are so many times I stood on the sidelines, afraid to try.
I want my children to believe in their worth, to follow their joy, to stand up to the possiblity of rejection because, even if it comes, it will make them better.
And it's taken me time to learn you can't teach them those things if you don't do them for yourself.
A few weeks ago, my daughter's dance team invited parents to participate in a group dance...to surprise our tiny dancers at the year end recital. There wasn't a moment of hesitation on my part.
Yes, it was my Grease a few decades in-the-making. And yes, it could be seen as an attempt to capture a missed chance. But I've moved past needing that for myself.
It wasn't a missed chance, it was a new chance.
"Why did you decide to do that?" she asked me, her voice filled with bewildered surprise.
"Because I didn't think I could," I replied.
"But then you did," she said.
There are still moments she struggles to believe in herself; it's who she is.
But seeing me on that stage?
I hope I showed her if she keeps trying, I will too.