The Sixteenth Year-Enter CYT

2002-03: Year Number 16

Just nine years ago … and who would have thought that three little letters could so take over my life and mean more than I could possibly describe in words? I’ve written so much on the topic of CYT, I’m sure you must be just a tad tired of it by now. 🙂 But this is about the year that it all began for me … back when no one knew who I was at CYT, and when I was a much different person than I am now. So much has happened in these nine years! Who knows what the next nine – or twenty-nine – will hold for me and this organization that has a forever seal upon my heart?

I was fifteen years old when I first started taking classes at CYT. Much older than many others who start at CYT, and believe me, I envied those who had been involved since they were eight or ten! If only I could have had so many years with CYT as a student … but God has blessed with me with many years after to still be involved for which I am ever grateful!

I’d heard about CYT from some friends at school who had been involved with it for awhile, and so it was with excitement and some trepidation that I approached Fourth Memorial Church that wintery day so long ago with my mother. I entered a hallway spilling over with children of all ages, eagerly chattering away, laughing and hugging one another like they were all long-lost relatives. My eyes sought out the friends I knew from school, but as they were involved with their own friends, I certainly didn’t want to bother them. So in I went with my mother to sit through that very first informational meeting … a meeting which I now have memorized and could quote it to you in a heartbeat! I was rather disappointed to find out that I was in a small class where I was the oldest, but I thought, “No matter! I’ll just get into the show and soon make friends with people my own age very quickly!”

Ah, if only that were the case. Little did I know that God had some lessons to teach me that would try my very heart & soul … you see, I hadn’t had any theater experience whatsoever and no vocal training. I thought I would be all right, though, since I had been in choir when I was little. I practiced my audition song over and over again, trying to convince myself that I sounded good enough to land a dream role.

That day of auditions came, though … and I was more fraught with nerves than I had ever been in my life. To this day, I don’t know how I made myself get up there and go through with the audition … only that I wanted to be in the show more than anything, and I would do whatever it took. My confidence waned, though, as I sat and watched the auditioners go up there one by one – many of whom were well-known around CYT. Finally it was my group’s turn to go … and even though there was nothing I wanted more to do than turn and run away, I slid out of my chair, walked to the front – and sang my audition song.

It was over quickly, although at the time, it seemed to go on forever. It was truly one of the most humiliating experiences of my life, and I found very fast just what it took to audition … and I found that children younger than I – of 9 and 10 – could do it much better than overly-confident me! I had to learn that sometimes in life, the things you want the most, you have to work the hardest to get. And from that day, I have worked … so very, very hard, because I knew that when I attained it, it would be the most beautiful and fulfilling thing I’d ever gained.

It was a rough first quarter at CYT. I almost didn’t come back afterward. I thought, “Perhaps this isn’t really for me … how could I have ever thought I’d fit in here and become someone with all these people so much more talented and popular than me?” At break time, I just shrank into the wall, and tried not to be too much of a bother … but they didn’t notice me anyway, so it was okay. I thought I would never belong there …

But somehow … a year later, I felt the tug on my heart to return to CYT – just for classes this time. And so I did; I joined Mrs. McKinney’s Audition Workshop class, and this was when things began to change ever so slightly. It was still difficult for me to put myself out there, but by the end of that quarter, I was ready to jump into the next – and this time, I was determined to make it different. I only meant to crew for the show, but at the last moment, I decided to audition and unexpectedly landed a good part in the show! Along with that, I decided to get to know every single cast member by name … and because of that, I made best friends that I have for life. I started to find my place at CYT … a place that has grown until it is one of the most cherished things I hold in my life … a place that I would be lost without … and a place that has truly shaped who I’ve become in life. God took a scared teenager and made her blossom into a young lady capable of more than she ever thought … all because of an organization called CYT.

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