My CYT Story: Taking on the World

The following story was submitted by Danielle R. from CYT Chicago for the 2019 My CYT Story Competition.


Stepping out of your comfort zone can often have the biggest payoff. For me, auditioning for CYT was that step. It was advancing from the comfort of the day-to-day into a wonderland of experiences. I am forever changed because of CYT, and the payoff is immeasurable.

Seven years ago, I had my first CYT audition for Godspell; to say I was nervous would be an understatement. When we arrived at the church people wanted to get to know me and ask me questions. When you’re a quiet kid at school you’re usually overlooked, but not at CYT. I sang the song “Happiness” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and I think that accurately reflects my CYT journey. This organization has brought me an abundance of happiness. I didn’t realize it then, but that first audition day would be a day that would change the rest of my life.

By the time rehearsals came around, I knew that CYT would become my home. And for 7 years and counting, this has been true. I have become a dancer performing as the Enchantress in Beauty and the Beast, a singer as the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins, and an actress as Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan. Our house walls have been invaded by cast photos, the closet is stocked full of programs and memorabilia, my Pandora stations are 90% showtunes, and most importantly my heart is overflowing with good memories. You could call me a CYT fanatic! I look forward to coming to CYT every week, and it’s truly a one-of-a-kind community. Spending just 60 seconds smiling and singing through the nerves has offered me a lifetime of amazing memories.

CYT has molded me into a more confident person and performer, and I have grown so much from when I started. I’ve also made some of my best friends at CYT. The cast is like a family, and I’m so grateful for such a supportive group of people who help me be the best I can be. I don’t know where I would stand in my faith without CYT as well. From exposure to godly role models, to worship on Saturday morning rehearsals, to touching the hand of God through the CYT point, I have truly been saved by the support of this organization. It’s beautiful to see how many lives are being changed through CYT.

The memory of my first audition day is clear and heart-warming, and I learned that sometimes you need to push yourself to do something uncomfortable, because those are the experiences that best pay off. A quote I try to live by is, “if it excites you and scares you at the same time, it probably means you should do it.” CYT has pushed me leaps and bounds and I thank God for such an incredible blessing. Theater changes people like nothing else can; now I can take on the world.


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.

Dear CYT, Thank You for Changing My Life

The following story was submitted by Kaitlyn M. from CYT San Diego for the 2019 My CYT Story Competition.


Dear CYT,

I would like to personally thank you for changing my life. In 2016 I auditioned for Annie Jr. at San Diego’s Central County. Little did I know, that would be one of the best decisions I ever made. When I auditioned I met many friendly staff members that signed me in quickly. Tons of kids wished me good luck and told me to not worry. Once I got into the show, I jumped out of bed because I was overwhelmed with joy to go to rehearsal and see my new friends.

Before CYT, I was a shy little girl that wasn’t very confident. But, I soon became a confident, bubbly, and well-rounded little girl. I learned to act, sing, and dance while having the time of my life. The biggest impact that CYT had on me was that I became much closer to God, and it helped me find myself. Though I have only done two CYT shows, I hope to be involved for the rest of my life. I have made many lifelong relationships that mean the world to me. I have noticed that, if I’m being honest, everyone who does CYT is free to be themselves no matter how quirky they may be.

So, thank you CYT for changing my life.


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.

My CYT Story: Overcoming

The following story was submitted by Isabella Y. from CYT Sacramento for the 2019 My CYT Story Competition.


When I was younger my mom had to come with me to everything—every church and school event, and even places where I had friends. I was so shy and scared of everything I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until I was nine years old. I could not talk to anyone! I could not even smile at people I knew.

Little by little that shyness wore off, but not all of it. I was still shy when it came to interactions with strangers—even at CYT Summer Camp. On the first day of CYT Summer Camp 2017, I was so nervous I was shaking. I didn’t know anyone, which was terrifying. The day passed and I noticed I had actually enjoyed camp more then I expected. The kids on my team, who had been attending CYT for a while, included me in their inside jokes, even though they hardly knew me.

As the months passed I auditioned for Lion King Jr. and was very happy with my role as a zebra. I loved it because I had written in large print, on my audition form, “NO SPEAKING PARTS” and “BACKGROUND DANCER.” That show taught me so many things—and I thank God for all the triumphs of Lion King, including making VERY GOOD friends. That winter I was cast as ensemble in Cinderella. Although I missed my friends from the last show, I still had a great time and doubled the amount of friends I made. Through all this my shyness was wearing off. I began to ask questions in class and talk with just about everyone. The rest of the shows and summer passed quickly.

As we entered the 2019 spring session, one day I was talking to one of the teachers. Immediately after our conversation I realized that if I had seen myself last year talking to a teacher like we were old friends, I would have been really shocked. Life went on and it was good.

Then came the test. I “bumped” into an old “friend” and all of a sudden something snapped—all the emotions of that challenging relationship came flooding back to me and I didn’t know if I could ever forget how I had been treated. After thinking and praying about the situation over a period of time, I finally realized that CYT helped me forgive and forget that person’s actions. CYT showed me that we all have differences and God is the One who guides our actions. We shouldn’t just rely on ourselves for comfort—we need Him.

As I think about my CYT Story more and more, the TRUTH that God placed in front of me in 2017 is that: He’s there. He’s always going to be there. He will help me get through anything and He will never let me down. God will never place in front of me something He KNOWS I can’t overcome. I am an overcomer!


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.

My CYT Story: Finding My Path

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.

My CYT Story: Gaining Confidence

The following story was submitted by Olivia L. from CYT Houston for the 2019 My CYT Story Competition.


CYT has helped me in many different ways, but the most important and prominent way is how it has helped me overcome my anxiety. When I first joined CYT, I did not want to speak to anyone. I remember my first class vividly and how I was absolutely terrified to do any sort of accent in front of the class. Once the class continued, however, I saw that no one was really judging my accents (and everyone else sounded goofy too). I grew more comfortable, but I still didn’t want to do anything that put any attention on me. As the classes continued and I experienced lots of stress over the idea of performing in front of people, I also found that the people I was with were making the process a little easier. Even my teachers were willing to work with me to help me gain confidence! Then, I decided to do my first show. I was completely inaudible during my entire audition and definitely cried a bit, but I had an absolutely amazing time in the show and I made lots of friends.

One of the unique things I experienced during the CYT show was all of the hugging. I was not used to people outside of my family hugging me, and it initially made me uncomfortable. Now, I hug people a lot and I quite enjoy receiving hugs from friends as well. It took me a very long time to gain the confidence to sing in front of anyone, even though I was gaining confidence in other areas through CYT, but finally I did it at the CYT Trinity Pines summer camp a little less than a year ago. I didn’t do very well and I was incredibly anxious during the whole audition, but I ended up with a small solo for our showcase. When I went onstage and sang my little solo for the first time, my mom started crying because she had never heard me sing before.

It’s taken me 17 years, four of which have been with CYT, but I finally have the courage to sing in front of others and to be myself. After that experience, I have just been gaining more confidence and I even take voice lessons with other students and sing loudly! Ultimately, I would never be as confident as I am now if it weren’t for CYT, and that is what CYT means to me.


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.

My CYT Story: Giving and Receiving

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


CYT Waco is my family. I felt included there like nowhere else. It began to feel like family when I was at rehearsals with my mom even when I was not called. I would sit at the back of the rehearsal, but the director invited me to come play the games and even stand in place of someone who wasn’t at rehearsal that night. I felt wanted and included in a way I never had before. The next show I was sure it was a mistake when the director phoned and told me my role. I could not believe that I could be trusted with that big of a role until I was at the first rehearsal. But the director built my confidence and I succeeded as Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. Soon, I found myself in roles and positions helping the newer actors find their place. I began to realize CYT was a place to give as well as receive. More than once when I had a need, my CYT family showed up for me. On my lowest days when I have not wanted to keep going, I remembered that my CYT family was counting on me and that gave me the strength to show up one more day. Without CYT, I would never be the person I am today.


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 Regional Winner.


My CYT Story: Growing Confidence and Friendships

The following story was submitted by Ellie H. from CYT Sacramento for our 2018 My CYT Story Contest.


When I was in 6th grade, I was a painfully shy kid who had a lot of trouble making friends. All of my friends had been put into different classes than I was in at my school, and most of the clique-y kids were put into my class that year. My school was not the best when it came to a social life and kids being nice to each other. It was really hard for me to connect to the other kids in the class, though it didn’t look like it on the outside. The next year, me and three friends that I had known for years transferred to a different school in the area, where I had to start all over with more new people in the classes that none of my three friends were in. And since it was the first year of middle school where we finally had more than just one class per day, that meant a lot of classes without my friends. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the friends that I already had and I’m still close with them to this day, but classes that they weren’t in were the worst, and I felt completely alone. Making friends at school was even harder than ever.

But 7th grade was also the year I was in my first CYT show. Two of my few friends encouraged me to join them at CYT – they had done shows there before that I had gone to see, and it looked so cool to be able to become an entirely different person. I thought hey, maybe I could do a show there and become an entirely different person. Maybe then it’ll be easier to make friends. My first show was Beauty and the Beast, and I did absolutely terrible at my audition. But the other kids there applauded anyways – more than just “polite applause”. It made absolutely no sense, but it gave me the confidence to talk to a few more people afterwards, and during that show I actually was able to add some more people to my list of friends. This confidence grew with every show, with the applause of the crowd and the encouragement of the directors and family members that came to see the show telling me that I was doing great.

But there was a problem – I couldn’t become a different person offstage. It just wasn’t working, and I still had no clue how to make friends without the plan of entirely changing myself for whichever person I wanted to make friends with. Yet, I had still made friends at CYT. How had that even happened?

It took me a few more classes and shows to realize that I had made so many more friends through CYT without even realizing it. I had always been very slow to add people to my mental list of friends, because I always thought that they probably secretly didn’t like me and were just faking being friendly whenever I came around or joined their conversations. But that wasn’t true. These people at CYT actually did like me, they actually did like to have me around and they weren’t just acting like it. I could hardly believe it.

The newfound self-confidence that came with this growing circle of friends gave me the ability to make friends at my school too outside of the three that I already knew, and I finally didn’t feel alone in my classes. I felt like I finally had the ability to make more friends on my own, instead of relying on my three friends to introduce me to others and hoping desperately that these new people would like me. And now here I am in my junior year of high school, with an amazing circle of friends around me that was made possible by this theater group that I was introduced to so many years ago.


Want to submit your story to the 2018 My CYT Story Competition? Deadline is April 1.

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2018 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 Regional Winner.