The following story was submitted by Emily H. from CYT Austin for the 2019 My CYT Story Competition.

Moving to Austin was one of the hardest things I was ever forced to do. I only had two friends, but I loved them and could not bear to leave them, even though I did not see them very often. What I had not realized was that I had been deprived of social interaction. That finally changed when I joined CYT. Prior to moving, I was a singer, but I refrained from performing after moving because I was not sure where to start. While in CYT, I have gained new friends and opportunities to sing on stage again, and I am learning to be more confident.

I have been singing since Kindergarten. I started in a church choir, and I participated in that church’s choir programs until my move to Austin. During that time, I had some classical voice lessons. I learned how to sing both alto and soprano. I also performed solos occasionally, most notably at another church, where I performed solo for two whole songs, something I had not done before. When I moved, I stopped performing, and I became somewhat terrified of it. My confidence and pride in my voice decreased.

Before I moved to Austin, I was shy and socially awkward. I hardly had any friends, and I rarely left the house. I was lonely, and, honestly, I did not realize how much I needed social interaction. When I moved to Austin, I did make one or two friends through my homeschool co-op, but even that was not enough. I found the friends I was looking for when I joined CYT Austin, a theatre group with the kindest and most encouraging people I have ever met, nearly three years after the move. They encourage me to chase my dreams and are there for me when I am upset. I still keep in touch with my old friends, but I have come to usually feel more comfortable with my theatre friends.

CYT came into my life when my mom found out about its performance of Mary Poppins the day of the auditions. She told me to learn the audition song that day so I could be in it. I was scared to do it, but it was honestly the best thing I was ever forced into. I stuttered throughout the song Feed the Birds until the chorus came, which was the part I knew by heart. Little did I know, despite my nervousness, the directors were blown away by my voice. To my great surprise, I got a large applause. At the callbacks, they asked me to read some lines for Mrs. Banks. I acted to the best of my ability, though my shyness may have pulled me back, but I suppose it was good enough because I was cast as the Bird Woman. I still find it rather amusing that I got to sing the very song I auditioned with. Many other CYT performers tell me that it is impressive that I got a named role for my first musical. The Bird Woman is still my favorite role due to this and is one of my greatest prides. Since then, I have also been Arista, Ariel’s sister, in The Little Mermaid, as well as Alice and a part of an Andrew Sisters-like trio in Bye Bye, Birdie!, and I have learned more about dancing and acting in the classes that CYT offers. It has been a miracle that I have had a named role for every show I have been in so far, and I am very thankful.

My confidence has always been an issue because of my anxiety. I am often afraid to speak up because I am afraid that people will find me weird or will not care what I have to say. While that may be true in some settings, I do believe that there is a time and place for everything, which means there is a time for me to speak. Those at CYT have encouraged me to be more comfortable in my own skin and to not be afraid to speak up. I am still learning, but there has been much progress. I am no longer afraid to sing in front of a large audience, and I think that dancing has helped me gain confidence in moving my body; I have even lost weight since starting. Even my appearance has improved. Before CYT, I did not care what others thought of my appearance, so I looked quite lazy. I am so thankful for CYT and for the help I have gained from joining.

I have been so much more optimistic since joining CYT, and my life really has brightened. It feels like my eyes have been opened to new possibilities for my future. I really do think I have “found my path”, so to speak. Many people who have known me since before I started theatre have told me that they noticed a big change in me, and it makes me so happy to know that. I look forward to many more performances, and I cannot wait to see where life takes me in this program.

Want to submit your story to the My CYT Story Competition? Deadline is April 1.

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective Branch’s leadership for judging as part of the My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Branch Winner.

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