I wait in the hallway with about 50 other people. Some are sitting down, others are leaning casually against the wall – and the rest of us are nervously pacing. I silently practice my lines in my head, but I keep forgetting the words that I could normally recite in my sleep. I’m sweating despite the air conditioning, and as they call my name to go up to the stage, I wonder if I’m going to slide right out of my shoes and fall flat on my face in front of the entire casting panel. “Please don’t breakout,” I repeat to myself, knowing that stress can sometimes affect my urticaria.
Anyone who has auditioned for a role – a play, sport or musical performance – can tell you how terrifying it can be…and multiply that by infinity if you live with urticaria. You are voluntarily putting yourself at the mercy of people whose job is to critique you. Even those who have performed their entire lives can still get nervous before an audition. There are few things I find as frightening as the first time standing before a casting director, trying to give them my best performance, while fighting back the nerves that threaten to make a fool out of me.
In some ways, this fear is like living with urticaria. When I have visible wheals, it often feels like I am on a stage, exposed under the bright lights with everyone staring at me. I am always consciously aware of every visible inch of skin, every move I make and how I am being perceived by others.