Welcome back to You Are Here! I hope ya’ll have been having the most wonderfully basic fall... filled with pumpkin picking, apple picking, scary movies, and plaid button downs. I find it so funny that being basic has always had a negative connotation. In fact, urban dictionary defines it as a word to “describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to.” Now I know urban dictionary is not exactly the most credible source, but seriously?! For me, basic fall activities have so much nostalgia attached to them. There’s something sentimental about doing activities as a grown adult that I used to do as a child with my family. So yes, my fall has been basic AF and I’m proud of it!
Anyway... this week’s conversation is with a girl who is far from basic (at least in the way that urban dictionary defines the word). Maria Pedro is interesting, extraordinary, and is definitely worth devoting both time and attention to. Maria came into my circle through a mutual friend of ours and I asked her to be part of this blog due to her straightforward and honest nature. Although we haven’t spent lots of time together Maria was extremely generous with me in sharing where she is on her epic journey of life and ever evolving career. I hope you enjoy!
Maria: Audition anxiety is so annoying because I should be going into a room like ‘I got this,’ maybe not this job but ‘I got what I’m doing right here right now and what I’m doing makes sense to me and this is what I have for you and if you don’t like it or buy it that’s okay.’ But I still haven’t learned the lesson of ‘do you like it? Do you like me? Am I wearing the right thing?’ I wanna learn it...but it’s a constant battle of letting things go. Ultimately I am proud. I wouldn’t still be here if I wasn’t proud of the work that I do...And now realizing it, if I could approach audition material like ‘this is a scene I’ve been working on, I’m gonna do it.’ That’s it! And there’s somebody I don’t know watching me...It’s practicing. It’s practicing flipping the way that you think about things and the way that you approach them. When things are kind of slow it’s really easy to break it down and work on those things but now that we’re approaching audition season I really want to...practice some sort of meditation...to set me up...set those gears in motion instead of just waking up and allowing myself to be stressed...I practice other things but practicing how to think is something that we don’t do...And as people we need to practice breathing and thinking and being self aware. It’s not something that comes naturally to us all the time. If we could be more consistent with that...I think it would make my life easier. So I didn’t even really think about that until talking just now but I think that if there was a way... yeah, either figure out a meditation or...I don’t do yoga but something like that would be very helpful. Something that can start your day. Some sort of routine or ritual because too many times I roll out of bed and I’m just a spiraling ball of anxiety and it just starts picking up dust along the way. So I get to the end of the day and I’m like ‘I need a glass of wine!’ There's nothing wrong with that but you shouldn’t need it. When you’re working on a job, your job is to do the show, so it’s so easy to wake up at 10 AM and have my coffee and then go to the gym at 12 and it’s so easy to self care and I think that’s why it feels so good. But then we come back and we forget that ‘cause we’re hustling but it’s like no, no, no you still have to find... maybe not so leisurely but you still have to find ways to kind of align your body. It’s like having somebody adjust your back. Adjust yourself. I feel so smart when I say these things and I just need to put them into practice. That’s a really great word.
Becky: Well I think there’s a difference between knowing it up here in your head and knowing it throughout your whole body. I love the word practice but I think the word has lost its true meaning. ‘Cause you’re like ‘okay I’m gonna practice these sides.’ But what we’re really thinking about is what’s the end product gonna look like and I’m gonna practice them with the hope that it gets me what I want, gets me the job.
Maria: Which is not conducive to actually working on something.
Becky: And that’s not what the world truly at its root means. It means you do something over and over again to see growth, to see improvement, to learn something...not a specific outcome.
Maria: And that kind of spirals back to putting yourself in the right mindset when you start the day, bringing in your best self and your best work and being proud of that and then going home and doing your evening.
Becky: And seeing that as a success! Because it is! It’s so difficult to do that. It’s so easy to stress and to walk into a room and be nervous and to not have any fun and leave and think negative thoughts about the experience. That’s the easy thing to do. The hard thing to do is the other stuff. And so if you accomplish that, that’s a success!
Maria: That can be a hard thing to balance...not overthinking it but giving it enough heart to make sure that you’re doing the good work that you wanna do but also not putting this immense pressure on yourself...Don’t let your mind spin out of control which mine does. I go through these stages of being really excited, really nervous, really insecure, very confident, but it’s just tell your brain to shut the fuck up and let me do it.
Becky: And that goes back to the whole practicing thinking thing.
Maria: I’m a creature of habit in some sense of the word so having something to start your morning but also post audition, doing something specific to clear your head. Not letting it control your day and your life.
Becky: When I was in college someone told me to write a thank you letter to everyone you go in for...And I did that for a while and it got to be a lot because I was going on a lot of auditions. And it didn’t feel good the way I think it was meant to feel good. And so I stopped and then just yesterday— ‘cause I was in finals for the Cats tour, I was in for the bootcamp, like the whole nine yards, you know...And yesterday I finally got out my pen and got my little notecard and wrote a thank you letter to Lindsay and Xavier ‘cause they were the two that were dealing with the whole thing. And when I sent it I was like, ‘that felt so good.’ To say thank you for managing the craziness of all that. I feel like that sort of put it to rest.
Maria: It was the closure that you needed on the experience. And it’s just the business too, it’s just nice to be like ‘okay, I just spent all this time with these people and now we’re just gonna stop?’ It’s kind of like getting dumped and you don’t get to say anything about it. It’s almost like, romantic. I mean, people don’t write letters anymore but we do in the theatre! But yeah, I think that’s really nice and if you don’t get a chance to do that with all experiences at least maybe write about it in your journal or something.
Becky: Or just for the ones that tug at your heart strings a little more ‘cause we all go on so many auditions and we all forget about half of them.
Maria: Also that kind of just shows you, and also them, that this means a lot to me. This process meant a lot to me, I put a lot into it and I want to pay homage to it.
Becky: And also recognizing, this has been a huge lesson for me, recognizing that three years ago these opportunities weren’t knocking on your door.
Maria: That is progress...
Becky: It’s huge! But we don’t recognize it as progress...
Maria: It’s not on our list of victories, on the appropriate list of victories... But it’s definitely an accomplishment. And that kind of stuff would not happen if you weren’t in the city all the time. Going back to the stigma of when you’re here you’re failing and when you’re out of town you’re doing well unless you’re on Broadway. But if you had been continuously out of town you would not have been at that ECC. It’s important to know that right place at the right time is a thing... Yeah, it’s interesting. Why wouldn’t you put that on such a pedestal? ‘Cause to me that’s incredible that you went throughout that entire process. And yet we walk away thinking ‘didn’t get it.’ And yet so many people tried to get here and I’m here and someday I will be there... Things are going better than you think that they are. But because we’re twisting things in such a self deprecating way we’re already setting ourselves up for depression. And you can’t live your life like that...You know, I never get appointments from Telsey ever and I had one and instead of being like ‘cool, I get to meet Craig ‘cause he’s only ever seen me at EPAs and we can actually talk.’ Instead I was like ‘oh my god, what am I gonna sing?!’ Can you just not be a spazz for once in your life? Even talking about this feels so good ‘cause it’s going towards thepractice of being like ‘you know what? You’re doing okay!’
Can you guys see why I was so jazzed to chat with this lady? Her honesty about audition anxiety, her struggles, and what she wants to work on are so inspiring! What a great reminder that you are never alone in whatever it is you’re going through. Who else feels inspired by talking about this kind of stuff? I want to hear from you! Comment, shoot me a private message, and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the second part of our conversation on Wednesday!