On Not Being Chosen

The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect. I’d resigned from my job as a public school math teacher, transferred primary custody of my two children to their father, and married my best friend. I’d been in therapy for several years and had begun to come to terms with the multitude of factors that have made me into the woman I am today… an obese former dancer who was ready to reclaim her body and her ability to express herself creatively.

I have been a fan of The Biggest Loser for years now. I would sit on my sofa in my oversized pajamas and binge on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while watching the obese contestants compete and reclaim their thinner selves. I had considered auditioning for the show in the past, but always felt tied to my children and my job to the point that I couldn’t imagine giving away enough time to actually participate in the show. But this year was different. THIS was MY year.

Jen, a dear friend of mine from high school, had agreed to audition for the show with me. The past several seasons, the producers had cast teams of two and we just knew that we’d be the comic relief that they would want in front of the cameras. I took the initiative and registered on the casting website for updates. When they announced live casting dates, I was more convinced than ever that this was my destiny. The casting tour was coming to my home state of North Carolina. They would be in Raleigh on the same day that I happened to be driving through on my way back from a family vacation. How perfect!

As the casting date approached, Jen experienced an injury that she felt would prevent her from giving her all to the show, but she encouraged me to go on without her. My new husband agreed to support me and drove me to the audition site. When we got in line, I thought, “This really doesn’t look too bad.”  How wrong I was!

The line (as I was about to learn) wound through two aisles of the parking lot, around one side of the building, up three flights of stairs, then completely around the third floor of the building. Total time from arrival to being seen by a casting director? Eight hours. Yes, eight hours of waiting in line in the hot July sun surrounded by other obese people hoping to make a good impression before being seated around a table with 11 other hopefuls for a 10 minute session with a casting agent. That allowed us less than 1 minute each to make our case for being one of the chosen few.

After my brief meeting with the agent, we left the casting site and headed to a local hotel. I was really confident that I would be one of those that would be called back for a second interview. I just had a feeling that this was going to be my year to reclaim my life. I stayed awake until midnight, continually checking my phone, waiting for that critical phone call. I finally dozed off and awoke in the early morning to the realization that perhaps it wasn’t me – it wouldn’t be my year. Over breakfast that morning, my husband convinced me to make and submit a video audition for a second chance. The deadline was only a week away, but I agreed to give it a shot.

I went back to my normal life and tried to put the feelings of rejection behind me. I did what I always do. I compartmentalized the emotions – boxed them up and put them on a shelf to deal with at some later date. I poured my energy into making the video entry. Several days later, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number. Usually I let calls like that roll to voicemail, but something compelled me to answer this one.

Much to my surprise, there was a casting agent on the line wondering where I was. Apparently they had tried to call me the night of the audition, but my phone didn’t ring. They left me a voicemail that I never received. (Thanks Verizon!) He also told me they’d sent me an email that I’d somehow managed to overlook. He assured me that I needn’t worry about missing the callback interview though. He said to complete the long form of the application and send it in ASAP. He promised to be watching for it and said if he saw anything in the application that needed to be included in the video, he would call and let me know.

My hope was renewed and I spent the next two hours completing the application and getting it emailed in. The next three days were spent obsessing over the video. I experienced a moment of deep gratitude to one of my former colleagues for teaching me how to use MovieMaker as I edited the different clips together. I finished the video and had it uploaded as instructed by 11pm on the final day. Then the waiting began.

I tried not to think about it, but always kept my phone nearby and checked my email frequently, hoping beyond hope that I would be chosen. Then it happened. The casting team posted on their Facebook page that all finalists had been contacted and my heart sank. Rejected. Again. This was exactly what my therapist had feared.

We had discussed my desire to audition for the show and she was honest enough to tell me that she didn’t think it was such a great idea. Sure, if I made the show, it could very well be the best thing to ever happen to me. But what if I wasn’t chosen? How would I handle the rejection? I assured her that I had auditioned for many plays over the years and I was accustomed to accepting that I didn’t get the part I wanted. I told her that they were looking for something specific for each season and if they didn’t pick me, it wasn’t a reflection on me, but rather I didn’t have the particular trait they needed for this season. Her other concern was that I would wait until season 15 and audition again. This is where she was wrong.

I am NOT waiting until season 15. I was right. This is my year. This is the year that I reclaim my body, that I shed the weight that I’ve been hiding behind for so many years. I’ve come to understand the various issues that have impacted my weight over my lifetime and will be addressing some of those here in the coming months.

So why blog about something like this? Why put myself out there and subject myself to the potential criticism and judgment of others? Because I am tired of hiding. That’s why. I’ve been hiding behind this weight for far too long. I’ve suppressed the person I was born to be in exchange for a “safe” life. It’s time to pull back the curtain of shame, remove the emotional walls, and shed the fat that has kept me “safe”. It’s time to LIVE again.

I hope you’ll find something here to inspire you, motivate you, or (at the very least) make you laugh! Let the journey to ME begin!Labor Day 2011

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