How to Solve the Wonder Problem

So guess what? I auditioned for a play!

And guess what else? I didn’t get the part.

Actually, let me correct myself. I didn’t get the part I wanted. Which was a nanny who oversees one of the most important, coolest, and younger characters in the show.

Instead, I got a much smaller part. Actually, parts. I’m in the ensemble, which means I’ll be a pirate. And a mollusk. And a puppeteer.

Despite knowing that there was tons of competition because, it turns out, San Diego is chock-full of really strong thespian talent, I was disappointed.  I found myself wondering…what the heck happened? Was I terrible? Did my lack of exposure to children come through that strongly?

I made up all kinds of stories about how horrible I’d been on that stage. I felt embarrassed, doubtful…bad.

Pictured myself sitting out every show I’d ever audition for in the future.

Finally, after a while of self-tortured wondering, I decided it needed to stop. So I summoned my courage, called the director, and asked her why I didn’t get the part.

The answer?

I was just too little to play the nanny. (The actress who got that important, cool, young character – the one I would have been “nannying” – was bigger than me. Which, let’s be honest, really wouldn’t have worked.)

You might think that this made me feel even worse. But I’m way into the acceptance phase on the fact of my own…littleness. So it was really fine. And the best part? I didn’t have to wonder any more.

And neither do you. Because, when it comes down to it, wondering really has no business when you’re looking back in time.

Easier said than done, I know. We often find ourselves wondering about something that has happened in our lives…something that involves human interaction and hits us in a personal way.

  • We see a curt email from someone who is usually chatty and we wonder if they’re mad at us
  • We don’t get the promotion or job or gig we want and we wonder what we did to turn somebody off
  • We don’t get invited to lunch with the rest of the group and we wonder if we’re somehow on the outs
  • We read a blog post written by a certain someone and wonder if it’s about us (I promise it’s not!)

These kinds of scenarios happen in the past…feel uncomfortably personal…and have us wondering what was behind it.

The good news is, they are in the past. (Sometimes recent, sometimes…not-so-much.) Which means they’re done. Which means we can do something besides wonder about them.

We can actually ask about them. We can contact the person involved and find out the real story. No more wondering. Voila!

Of course, it’s not that simple. Asking someone what really happened can feel pretty vulnerable. After all, we don’t tend to wonder about something that went well. We tend to wonder about something that didn’t go our way. Something uncomfortable. Something disappointing.

And so, when we ask other people about what really happened, the conversation can be awkward. We may hear something we don’t want to hear. The other person may not be straight with us.

Which is why, when you ask that other person what happened, you must proceed with great care. The question must be asked with inquiry, not defensiveness. You can even name that it’s awkward at the start, if that helps.

And then? You need to be willing (really willing…and able, too) to hear that true story, which could hurt. You also need to know that you may not get the entire picture when you ask for it. Because the other person might feel awkward as well.

(One caveat here…if you find yourself asking people about things in the past a whole lot, it might not be about wondering about a specific thing that went awry…it might be more about your own insecurities in general. Which is a different issue…for a future post.)

The important thing to note is that there’s a much better way to deal with your past then by wondering about it. Which never really gets you anywhere…and feels powerless to boot.

So ask about it. Then you can move on…and save all that wondering for where it belongs. In the future.

Which will free up lots of time and energy to focus on being the best darn pirate/mollusk/puppeteer ever.

(In case you’re wondering, I’m the little one on the left. And that’s just fine with me.)

As an update, playing my various roles has turned out to be an unadulterated blast. (And, it turns out, the woman chosen to play the nanny is actually perfect for that role. For real.)


PS: Wanted to give a shout out to the amazing cast, crew and director (you go Raylene J. Wall!) for the super-fun show I’ve discussed in this post. If you’re in southern CA you can catch our performance in April or May. (Details here!)


10 responses to “How to Solve the Wonder Problem”

  1. Erich Foeckler Avatar

    Deirdre, you always have the best insights and I love your honesty. Your posts always manage to brighten my day. thank you

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar

      Thanks so much, Erich – I so appreciate hearing that from you! Hope you are doing wonderfully these days 🙂

  2. Samantha Goldstein Avatar
    Samantha Goldstein

    So great to have another post! And, once again, a pertinent lesson for me! Thank you! Miss you lots and lots and the play looks really fun! xoxo

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar

      Thanks Sam!!! I’m glad you liked it and hope your own play is going well…I’m sure you’re doing amazing things with it!

  3. Patty Avatar

    Deirdre as usual your post if full of wisdom and honesty. I find for myself it’s about feeling the emotions with disappointment and accepting. Usually it works out for the better.

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar

      So true, Patty…letting yourself feel the feelings is the first step to moving past them. Thanks for your great comment!

  4. Andy Scrimger Avatar

    it really can drive me bonkers, I’ve lost a few projects without knowing if it was my prices, or design, or just not quite the right personal vibe. Sometimes I ask why, other times I leave it be…

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar

      And sometimes we ask but really don’t get an answer. Can definitely be frustrating, but at least we know we give it a go and try to find out!

  5. Victoria Cabot Avatar
    Victoria Cabot

    Saw it and you were GREAT in your role!!! Proof that the right things happen. Enjoyed the insight on the ‘backstage’ of this…drama. (-;

    1. Deirdre Maloney Avatar

      Thanks so much, Victoria – it was so wonderful to have you in the crowd! Glad you enjoyed it and I agree…definitely proof that things happen as they are meant to!