Nicholas W. McClellan
Nicholas W. McClellan

In these articles, I often talk about my childhood and how it relates to the production in a way that touches on a particular theme of that production. With the VWCT Summer Youth Theatre production of Peter Pan, JR., (June 27, 28, 29*) I’ve decided to “flip the script.”

Recently, I interviewed for a high school English language-arts teaching position. As I came out of the interview I texted to a friend, “Nailed it!”

My adrenaline was pumping as I continued to type. “I gave that interview team all I had in my “get-a-teaching-job” arsenal. I think I’ll get the second interview and probably the job.”


For a week, I kept myself busy waiting for that phone call. In my imagination I heard it ring a thousand times, each time telling me, “Nick. Guess what? All those big hopes, dreams, aspirations, and personal fulfillment you’ve been waiting for are about to become a reality. You’re amazing and we want YOU!”

Yesterday, the phone rang. This was it, the call I had been waiting for. This was the call that was going to give me a sense of purpose and make all those hours of education and money worth it. I was finally going to be a true educator… not just a substitute.

“Hello,” I said clearly and graciously. On the inside, I was shaking like a chihuahua. I was so afraid of what was about to be said. “Am I good enough for you?” I said to myself.

“Good afternoon, Nicholas. How are you?” she asked, but all I heard was her tone. At any moment, she was about to communicate what I could already hear in her voice.

After I generically responded, she began to report that they offered the position to another applicant who had accepted. “What was wrong about me?” I wanted to scream into the phone. What could I have done differently that could have tipped the scale in my favor?

I didn’t have any answers. All I knew was that I didn’t want to feel vulnerable; I didn’t want to feel much of anything (other than a couple glasses of wine and a dozen banana nut muffins in my mouth).

This is a trend I’ve noticed about myself and in others. When I feel vulnerable, I immediately want something to numb it. And when I can’t numb it, I start to blame myself and others because I think that that might help discharge my pain and discomfort. Peter Pan does the same thing. Instead of a box of Franzia and a carbohydrate addiction, he has his imagination, his own version of reality. We as adults (if we want to continue our lives) don’t have the option to escape into our heads with the ferocity of Peter Pan.

And then I try to perfect myself; fix myself because I’m apparently broken. When that fails, I think, how can I help fix someone else because that will give me a sense of control. It never works and the cycle just keeps going.

This time was different, though. After the wine and muffin session with a friend, I felt fine. Nothing had changed. I was no worse off than when I started the process. I was honest. I was visible. I was vulnerable. I was alive and it felt good!

Ultimately, as adults, we are all broken in some way. We are all capable of being vulnerable. I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to let yourself be seen, all of you. Open your hearts and love with every inch of it no matter how agonizing or risky it may seem. Practice joy and compassion and know that you are enough.

Sometimes, Peter’s Pan’s logic seems pretty sound; growing up is an awfully big adventure. This was my story, my recent brush with adulthood. Thank you for letting myself be seen. I now invite you to do the same. Visit us on Facebook (facebook.com/vanwertcivictheatre) and tell us about some of the moments in your life when you were or are vulnerable. Let yourself be seen and love it, because it means you’re alive.

And tune in next week when VWCT announces the cast of Disney’s Peter Pan, JR. This classic tale of childhood versus adulthood can be seen June 27, 28, and 29.