Too Much to Say
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2005-11-22 19:18:32 (UTC)

letter to professor

A little anecdote:

i thought you might find this little story interesting.
when you were talking about "learned helplessness" today in
class, my whole college experience was flashing before my
eyes. and i think it is a good example of learned

i went to Oklahoma City University and got a degree in
Musical Theater. i believe OCU is #4 in the country for
music theater, so the competition was very stiff at
school. well, anyways, i was the most motivated
musician/actor in my high school. i was the best--but any
talent i had was from hard work, and i wasn't going to stop
working until i was on broadway. now, when i went to
college, i was no longer THE best, but AMONG the best. so
i had to work even harder--and i did. freshman and
sophomore year i worked my butt off and finally got a small
acting role in an opera--which turned out to be a much
bigger part than i anticipated. i put everything i had
into my little performance. my director was very
impressed, i was finally getting some small recognition. i
was one of the best in my acting classes, i'm getting A 's
in all my performance classes. i'm not yet experienced
enough to be the star or the best, but i'm on the right

junior year comes, i've worked hard preparing all summer
because this is MY year. i'm right for every role, i'm
finally an upper classman, even my peers are encouraging
me. it's my turn to have a part. auditions come at the
first of the year. i wear my nicest dress (spend about 3
hours getting ready) sing my guts out at auditions. next
day i race to the hallway to see "the list"
no call back, no chorus role...nothing. i was devistated--
and felt very wronged. but i pick myself up and work even
harder. next show, i go through the same routine, i mean i
am READY for this one....and.....nothing. every junior
female is called back except me. next show...nothing.
next show...nothing. at the end of the year i get cast in
the chorus of an opera with a bunch of freshman and i hate
every minute of it. i didn't even memorize the music. i
could've cared less. whether it was lack of talent or
political reasons (i tend to suspect the latter) i was not
in the game.

senior year, first auditions...again, i seem to be the only
senior not to receive a call back. next audition i don't
even show up (and we're required to go to all auditions).
i've completely stopped looking at the cast lists. i
practice once a month, if that. my entire education is
almost over, i have yet to even be cast in a MUSICAL (which
was my major...NOT opera...i eventually grew to hate
opera.) everyone around me of equal abilities is seeing
results. i've pretty much abandoned all dreams of
performing. final audition is for an opera. some how i
manage a pity call-back for a small role (which was more of
an insult than an accomplishment) i don't dress-up, and do
my best to sabatoge my performance so that they DON'T cast
me. i completely stopped caring, and trying. somewhere
along the road i forgot that i was an ambitious person. i
was always one of those bratty kids who was the BEST at
EVERYTHING, and by senior year of college i proudly waved
my "slacker" flag. so much so that people were shocked and
even somewhat angry when i, at times, demonstrated more
ability than they. i labeled myself and convinced everyone
else around me to believe the label.

wow, that story seemed much shorter in my head. and less
depressing. happy ending: i fell in love, got married, and
found a deeper dream of being a teacher!

i think i shared that story more for a
revelation. but it's a good example of learned
helplessness. maybe you can use it in a class someday.
thanks for listening....or reading.

~jen brown (tall red head, second to last row.)

====== "The 'C' students run the world." ~Harry Truman