It’s been a long day. And not just because I’ve been inside Hisense Arena for over 6 hours now! Emotionally it has been draining, a complete rollercoaster. And finally, I’m standing behind the curtain, waiting to walk on the X Factor stage for, what is the first, and probably will be, the biggest performance of my life…
(Earlier in the day)
Since initially being moved to a holding area away from the glitz and excitement that was the earlier session of auditions, the next part of the day was full of interviews & anticipation. It was exciting! But, it wasn’t all that way for long… That excitement was quickly shifted to nerves when, every 15 minutes or so, one after the other, a contestant was called to “The Studio”… At each call my stomach dropped.
Hours passed, & for the first time I thought…
I’ll be last, I bet I’ll be last.
More hours passed, each contestant & their entourage left the room until it was near empty, barring chairs & X Factor crew. And finally… “Ryan & family, come with us to the studio”. I was led through the hallways of Hisense until I saw it..
Whoa… The. Studio. Is. The. Whole. Arena.
The door was opened and I entered another world. Most of the huge room was full of screaming, cheering people & you could hear them… Wow, you could hear them!! But I couldn’t see them.. A huge black curtain hung across the roof separating the crew and us contestants to a smaller area at one end of the gigantic space. I knew what was on the other side… The stage, the lights, the judges, THE CROWD. But I couldn’t even get a glimpse! Terrrrrrifying!!
Then I sat. And waited.
My ears pricked up at every noise on the other side of curtain. The contestants rolled one after the other, you can hear them, but not clearly. The judges, near impossible to pick up. But it’s the crowd that let us know everything that’s going on. The raving cheers, the standing ovations, the “BOOOO”s to unfavourable judge comments & every other reaction to what was appearing on stage. The crowd, the invisible wall of noise, told the story & it was unavoidable. “Win the crowd & I’ll get myself to bootcamp” I told myself.
I was positioned at one side of the arena but my eyes were glued to the other. It was side stage. After doing more filming & interviews I watched each contestant walk to that other side & wait nervously. They disappear…You listen…The song….The Judges…The crowd…For each of them time must either feel like a lightning flash or an eternity…
What will I feel like out there?
Can I get on top of my nerves?
Ohhh I hope so much that this goes well…
This could be the greatest, or the most embarrassing moment of my life.
As each contestant came back off stage I saw a different reaction…On all levels of the emotional scale. My personal rollercoaster was getting more violent. Higher peaks of excitement mixed with lower troughs of overwhelming nervousness. It was petrifying, but if I’m honest. I’m loving it. What’s life without a little bit of terror right? Especially if there’s a prize at the end of the ride! This is what it’s all about!
Each contestant files through..
My interviews & filming come & go until I’m the last to remain..
I say my last goodbyes to my family..
I’m handed a microphone for the first time in my life.. And..
“OK, we are 100% go” says the X Factor crew member over her radio..
“Ohhhh.. do we have to be?”
And not a few seconds later, I take my first steps towards what could the greatest adventure my life…
I guess I have to say I walked off stage but it sure didn’t feel like it. I was floating…
I was the most thrilling, the most terrifying, the most exhilarating, almost overwhelming moment of my life. It was without doubt, the best moment of my life! And I don’t say that too often!
Sure, I was climbing the walls before I took that first step on the stage, it was the most nervous I had ever been! (gee, it really was a night of mosts! haha) But as soon as I took that first step, something happened. I felt ready.
The judges. They weren’t anywhere near as scary as I thought they might be, they were friendly, funny, they actually cared for my story.
The crowd. INCREDIBLE!! So supportive, so positive, they made me feel like I was invincible out there! The cheers, the standing ovation, I could feel their sorrow when they heard my story, the shock when they heard my song choice.. I will never forget the crowd!!
The singing. I couldn’t believe it was happening, while it was happening! Whenever I’ve watched performers at concerts in front of big crowds I’ve always wondered what it felt like. And it happened! I think I actually felt it, it was intense, thrilling, exciting, empowering! I knew I was pouring my heart into this song infront of so many people, but somehow I wasn’t scared. It was incredible!
The song. Dad’s song. When I’d finished singing and heard Ronan Keating, THE Ronan Keating, say “Ryan, your Dad is an incredibly talented man”. That was some moment. If there was one thing I wanted to happen on that Sunday night, it was for my Dad’s talent to be heard. And it was. Truly is a beautiful song, so special to my family that has been designated to campfire singalongs & a small number weddings. And now Australia has been able to hear it. It was an unbelievable night for all involved.
Sunday night was the single greatest moment of my life, but hey, X Factor doesn’t end at the Judges Auditions…Now I’ve gotta deal with Bootcamp!