The 10th and final name was called and I put away my phone. There was no longer any need to have it out to record, since I was not selected to be a storyteller that evening. Throughout the event I had enjoyed the stories that were being told, all while holding out hope that I would join them. But alas, the paper bearing my name was not pulled out of the bag. I resigned myself to accepting that it simply was not my time and showing up was enough. I had guarded myself from the doom clouds of doubt and signed up enthusiastically to participate in one of the Moth’s StorySLAMs. The Housing Works Bookstore Cafe was warm and welcoming and the MC was very entertaining. I learned many personal lessons and storytelling techniques from several of the storytellers.
As my thoughts were shifting to what I would do after the event ended, I was surprised to hear from the MC that the people who were not selected would get to go on stage and say the first line of their stories.
Just the first line? That won’t give the audience much of an idea of what I had worked on for weeks. I would only be on the stage for a few seconds. Does that even count as doing anything?
I considered telling my boyfriend to not even bother taking a photo of me or maybe not even going up on the stage at all.
My stomach turned along with the first line of the story in my head:
I was a freshly-minted high school student and an entry-level teenager with something to prove, a freshman but, in my mind’s eye, already walking across the stage, gliding in heels and looking graceful and not awkward, giving my awe-inspiring speech as valedictorian (spoiler alert: I did not become valedictorian).
There was a lot packed into that first line, actually! Why not tell it?
I got on stage and the bright white lights crowded my view, reducing the audience to silhouettes. I recited my line and got some laughs and claps from the audience. My boyfriend was in position in the first row and snapped several pictures of me. It wasn’t how I imagined the night would go, but in those few seconds, I could feel the weight and excitement of the moment.
I’m grateful that I was given a small moment to bring my words in front of and allow myself to be seen by more people. More than that, I’m happy that I gave myself the chance for such a moment to happen in the first place. That small moment of being on stage, standing tall as a writer, with one of my biggest supporters in the front row watching, at an event I joined purely out of interest without care for external permission matters, as do all the other small moments that are easy to minimize.