keskiviikko 21. elokuuta 2013

Day 295: Singing to succeed


A few days ago I was a judge in a children's singing contest. It was a semifinal and we had to select a few children who would not be continuing to the final round which is held this weekend. After the contest a father approached me and another judge, telling us that his daughter had been dropped from the final and asking for specific feedback on what his daughter could improve; why exactly did she not make it?

I went through my notes and remembered this girl having been the least developed singer of the bunch, mainly because her singing was really forced and violent. I explained to the father the technical issues and basically told him that the girl needs to relax, and that she has to be given time to develop, because the voice of a child goes through a huge maturing process simply through the growth of the physical body. The judge I was with also gave her point of view which followed along the same lines as my feedback.

As I observed the father I noticed a huge tension in him. He told us how disappointed the girl is, because she has been in many contests never succeeding. I could see him anxious for his child's happiness and success, and the way he was doing it out of fear was pulling him, straining him; the feedback we gave was difficult for him to take because there was no comfort there; there was no quick fix to the child's “issue”, the boulder keeping her from happiness – what she believes she needs to be happy. I don't know how he broke it down to the child, but I hope he got my point about relaxing about it.

This got me thinking about my own childhood. I was taken to numerous singing contests ever since the age 6. I won the very first contest I attended, and ever since then I went to more and more contests in search of more success. I enjoyed the contests because it usually meant I could learn new songs and perform in front of people, and we usually also took a trip somewhere special so that I could attend the contest. It was a good way to motivate me to practice singing and performing and I learned a lot through it.

But there was also a negative side to it. My mother really wanted me to go to these contests because otherwise my “talent” would “go to waste”. She perceived and believed success in music to be measured by exposure, fame, awards and recordings, and I don't blame her because that's the limited way our culture defines music. She wanted me to have all the chances to express and explore myself that she didn't have growing up in a really poor family. Her enthusiasm topped mine, and eventually the contests became a strain to me, I felt like I was forced to do things, I felt disappointed when I didn't win (I rarely did), I felt like I was being forced into a mold that I didn't want to fit in. So in my teens I told my mother I didn't want to do it anymore and so she stopped pushing me, although expressing her great regret about it.

When I return to thinking about that very first contest I attended and won, I realize it has been a turning point, a defining moment. I was a very small girl and I have very vague memories of that situation. I can't remember the moment I got up on the stage and sang, but I do remember the moment the results were announced, I was declared winner and my family told me to get up and get my trophy. What I remember of this moment is noticing my family's agitation. All of my family, my parents and my three siblings, were with me (a rare occasion), and I remember my sister, my idol and anchor, was sitting next to me. I didn't really understand what the announcers were saying, but I remember they announced the results so that my family could guess that I was the winner before anyone said it because I was the only one left without a reward. I remember this wave of excitement coming from my family sitting on my left side, them being all “oh my god did she?” “can it be?” “oh wow you won!”, surprised and overjoyed and excited for me. I didn't understand what “winning” meant, but from my family's reaction I gathered that I had done something positive, I had succeeded. I walked down to the stage to be awarded, and the judges handed me a huge, heavy trophy, making a joke that I might not be able to lift it (I was tiny) and everyone in the audience laughing in approval of my adorable victory.

I see that the reaction of my family defined the moment for me, because their emotional response was overflowing, it was really “big” for me. Their joy represented acceptance, ultimate acceptance, and topped with the huge trophy the moment was somehow “crowned”. In order to get that ultimate acceptance I would have to succeed in the same way. This is where I started to define myself according to my singing: it was my strength, my asset, and I would have to be the best to remain accepted in the eyes of others. The fact that the victory is the only thing I remember of the contest is revealing, because my memory has selected not to remember the singing - the moment of expression - at all. All my memory selected is the moment of positive reinforcement.

So most of my life (ever since the age 6) I have been in search of that ultimate acceptance, which I believed to be found in other people, in my success, and not from within myself. This is probably one of the reasons why I react to disapproval / rejection / failure so strongly. I am afraid that when I express myself I will not be accepted – that I will be rejected as I was so many times in all those singing contests. Of course my history in being bullied in school also has a part to play, but I see that the bullying and the search for approval in contests are interlinked: they are my childhood, who I was back then. Through writing I am slowly piecing together my past so that my childhood/adolescence would make sense to me – that I would see the big picture – and every time I actually go through a specific memory like I did above I see the big picture getting a little bit clearer. I have been postponing going through a lot of things in my past but now I see I can no longer do that. I want to understand who I am now and why I keep messing shit up (there is one major underlying issue I haven't gotten hold of yet), and the way there goes through my past. Thus:

I commit myself to write about a memory from my past every day from now on until I am done with my past.

  • I may write about the memory in my blog
  • I may write about the memory separately from my blog posts
  • I choose whichever memory seems to be “on the surface”
  • I will have a specific notebook with me so that I will be able to do this anywhere

I commit myself to this challenge and project within and as the realization that the key to who I am now lies in my past in all the moments that have led up to this moment as everything I am now has accumulated over time.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear committing to this project because it appears long, time-consuming and, as my thoughts put it, “daunting” - not realizing that my past is not infinite and that eventually I will have gone through all of it, as long as I do it consistently: a little at a time at regular intervals.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear this commitment because I believe and perceive it is “too much” for me in addition to writing a blog, attending the DIP Lite course AND studying and working and living a life – not realizing that I have already committed to the Journey To Life project, where I will write a blog for seven fucking years, and that an additional project of opening a memory each day is not much compared to or in addition to that – and they might actually contribute to each other!

I commit myself to embrace this new challenge within and as the realization that it is what is best for me and thus also what is best for all.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti