Thanks to everyone who inquired, in the comments and in email, about the outcome of last week's audition, or wrote to express support. It meant a lot.
It was fine. I apparently didn't get the job, since I haven't heard back, and that is fine, too. Naturally, I would have loved to be cast in a TV pilot, and it would have been especially gratifying to be cast from my first audition in over 20 years. But the real point,for me, was to break the ice.
What struck me forcefully this time around was how manageable my dread was. I was definitely feeling it—there is something inherently demeaning, to me, about promoting myself to a roomful of strangers. (I have actor friends who don't feel that way at all—they look on it as a job interview, and believe they are the best candidate for the job and only need to show this to the directors. I think that is a really healthy attitude. Maybe some day I will come to share it.)
Of course, in any profession, you need to put yourself out there to get anywhere. But in a job interview, and in teaching, for example, there is a distinction between your self and your work, and those who evaluate you are only supposed to focus on your work. (I know this doesn't always happen, as witness some of the wildly inappropriate comments on ratemyprofessors.com, but it's helpful that they are understood to be wildly inappropriate. By contrast, it is part of a casting director's job to scrutinize your body size and shape and the grace of your movements, and this is often done quite overtly.)
But all of this doesn't paralyze me the way it used to. I told myself that since I had committed to do this, I needed to do it all the way—not to just show up and race through it, and pat myself on the back for having survived, but to throw myself into the experience, which I did. And I was effective enough so that they kept me after the reading and asked me to improvise on a situation in the script, which I was able to do as well, thanks to my improv classes.
So, in all, a success. As I age, I am learning to measure success this way—in setting goals for my own development, and pushing myself just past my comfort level to achieve them — rather than in external markers such as others' approval. I can't control that, but I can keep doing my best and working to ensure that my best keeps getting better.