Excuse, Excuses

It is always interesting to me to hear the excuses that kids come up with when they either a) just don’t want to do something, but won’t admit it or b) think they might fail and want to hide behind an excuse instead.

In teaching kids acting I can see the ones who are shy and need to be pulled out of their shell slowly and the ones who are always performing and need to be shut down a bit before they run over the other students.

I can also spot the ones whose mamas made them be there and the ones who see the class as an opportunity to be away from their parents for awhile. Usually neither of these types are very interested in theatre.

Even as I hand out scripts I can tell you who will be thrilled with whatever part they get, who will put their all into it, who will turn their nose up at anything I hand them and who really doesn’t care.

I am sometimes surprised by the occasional kid like the one who refused a part because she had to put on a red cape in order to walk on stage, say three words and walk back off, but I probably shouldn’t have been. She had not participated in other things we did and had told me during her audition that she wanted a really small part. Although some of my Facebook friends tried to find excuses for her, I have seen her all week and know the truth. It was easily fixed- she no longer has that small “extra” part, her excited friend has it. You don’t have to tell me twice that you don’t want to do something.

Like sports, theatre teaches you teamwork and how to work together for the common product. Whether on the field or on the stage, there is little room for excuses. If you don’t want to wear a cape or stand in the outfield, there are dozens of other kids who do.

One small kid (7 year old) told me that he might not be able to learn his lines because his brother’s birthday party was this weekend. “ALL WEEKEND?!” I asked. “That is my kind of party!”

Another 8 year old told me his weekends were really busy, but he would try to do what he could. When did 8 year olds start having busier weekends than I do?

I would rather a kid tell me that they just don’t want to do something or that they are scared to try, than give me a bone headed excuse. I can work with the truth.

“Excuses are the common denominator in most failures.” I heard that on TV today and I have to agree. Don’t tell me all of the reasons you can’t do something right off of the bat. Tell me how you will try. Then if you have an issue we can work it out together.

I can promise you that if you make a ton of excuses to me about why you didn’t learn your lines, you are still going to be the one who looks bad in front of your friends and family when we perform, not me. I can help you if you are willing to be positive, honest, and try.

I know a lot of grown ups who could use this lesson as well. Your immediate response to life shouldn’t be no all of the time. We all have reasons that things might not go smoothly, might be difficult or scary, but we can at least try. Most of the obstacles can be worked around or through if we really want to. If we just don’t want to, then we should own up and say we don’t.

There is always an excuse to be found. They usually aren’t that hard to find. I think it would be interesting if we stopped ourselves every time we had an excuse why we can’t do something, thought about our honest response and acted accordingly.

Are you really scared, uninterested, unwilling? Usually an excuse is the easy way out, and we all know that most of the time life isn’t easy. Take a minute to dig down, put the excuses aside and get real.

Life is going to happen around you no matter your excuse for not participating. Time is going to pass while you think of excuses for not joining in. You are the star of your own life and if you don’t play your part, you are the one missing out.

Excuses, excuses- where are they really taking you?

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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.