I was on a reality TV show called Endurance when I was 15. If you didn't already know that, I'll give you a moment to let that sink in and process your shock. Yes, this awkward, bespectacled girl with a decidedly behind-the-camera personality was a contestant on what was essentially a kid version of Survivor. I have an IMDb page and everything. (And before you ask... yes, it's on YouTube.)
Can you spot me? :)
This show was a massive obsession of mine for a few years. And calling it a "massive obsession" is probably putting it lightly, actually. So when I started seeing commercials on TV calling for audition tapes for season four, I roped my brother into being my cameraman and sent in a tape.
On April 14th, 2005, I was watching TV in the basement of my house when I heard the phone ring. It was an unknown number calling, so nobody picked up, as per usual, and I thought nothing of it. But a few minutes later, my mom came downstairs, holding the cordless phone and looking very strange.
"Dar, you need to listen to this. Right now."
My first thoughts were, holy crap, who died? Am I in trouble? What did I do?
My mom hit the playback button so I could listen to the message this caller just left, and what do I hear?
"Hi Darci, this is Mark from 3Ball Productions..."
3Ball Productions was the production company behind Endurance. Turns out they liked my audition tape and wanted me to send in another one. So I went from utter terror to a wide-eyed, squealing, flailing mess in 15 seconds flat.
I ended up not getting on that season, but I still had one year of age eligibility left, so when auditions for season five rolled around I went for it again. No regrets, right?
On April 14th, 2006, a call went to voicemail and the answering machine picked up as I was walking out of my room. So I heard it this time.
"Hi Darci, this is Mark from 3Ball Productions. I hope you remember me, 'cause we sure remember you from last year!"
Yes, hello, mental breakdown in the hallway.
I did make it onto season five, and believe me when I tell you that that call on April 14th was just the beginning of a long, weird, incredibly difficult but equally as amazing journey. One that I'm sure I'll get around to writing about eventually. And for a long time, I didn't really think about the significance of that first step, getting that call that got the ball rolling.
My parents thought I was a little bit nuts to want to be on a reality show. But they let me chase that bizarro dream I had because, lol, what the heck are the odds of it actually happening? (We found out later that the odds were 20 out of 10,000.) So, uh, the joke ended up being on them, I guess! That's what you get for underestimating me: put up in a hotel in Clovis, California with the parents/guardians of 19 other teenagers and left to watch your children do battle in the forest.
I mean, don't you wish you had promotional photos of your 15-year-old self and got to live in a treehouse on your summer vacation? (I'm trying so hard not to cringe at the photo. But the treehouse is still the coolest thing ever.)
But anyway, that freedom to pursue my goal is something that's stuck with me ever since. I wasn't the best athlete on the show, nor was I the most outgoing or the prettiest or the smartest or the most popular or the coolest, and I could absolutely keep adding to that list. But hey, I did it. I was there. I somehow made it happen. And y'know, I really think accomplishing that set me up for everything I've done since. I'm not afraid to get single-minded and passionate and recklessly pursue my goals. 'Cause yo, look what happened the first time I did! I'm still not the most talented or the prettiest or the smartest etc. etc. etc., but if the odds are 20 in 10,000 or better, I think I like my chances.
Bottom line: you want to do something? Okay, cool. Go do it.
So cheers, April 14th. You're alright.