Friday, June 11, 2010

A Serious Confession

I have been letting fear rule parts of my life for a long, long time. I couldn't accurately guess when it started but it must have been around middle school age. Maybe it was when I got on stage to try out for the middle school production of Our Town and completely forgot the monologue that, as a 12 year old, I was out of my league and completely drowning it. I mean... Shakespeare? REALLY? I don't remember exactly what it was, but I certainly didn't understand what they were talking about... I just had no idea what to do, and no one to ask for help from.

Anyway, I froze, choked, and almost started to cry. Mrs. Pearlman, the drama director, told me to go on to the improv part, which I think was to sell an imaginary product, which I did with ease. Remember something? Not my strong suit. Make up something to make others laugh? Nailed it. I remember that I was selling some sort of egg that would hatch into a tiny critter. It was an adorable little pet for your girlfriend or your kids. Buy one for every member of the family. I ended it by sort of freaking out that "oh no... the mother's escaped from the cage and she's coming for her children" and ran off, stage left. They laughed.

I ended up with a non-speaking part. I was an extra... a homeless person. A boy I had a crush on, after production said to me "You did good. You look... homeless" with a smile. I thought that meant he liked me. He didn't even recognize me the next school year. His sister comforted me at my middle school graduation when I was crying my eyes out because none of my family showed.

I think something in my broke on stage that afternoon, as my chin quivered and the corners of my lips curled down so forcefully it must've looked like a battle was raging on my face. I remember the pressure they exuded as they worked their way against all of my will as I tried to keep that ridiculous smile plastered on my face. Don't cry! Do NOT cry! I didn't... not really. I probably did that night.

And I definitely did years earlier when I tried out for a community production of Oliver. I forgot my ill-prepared song.... sang quietly, and shakily. I was SO SHY, and nervous and was terrible at everything. I auditioned with my two cousins and older sister. They all got in. I didn't.

Since then (approximately, as that was the last time I tried out for anything) I have had a really tough time asking for things if I didn't think I would get the answer I wanted-- and every time I forced myself to do so and got rejected made it even harder. Even the anonymous rejection of not getting a call-back after applying for a job made putting out each additional application that much harder. I hint at things rather than ask, just in case I don't get them. It doesn't lessen the disappointment if my hints go unnoticed and I don't get what I wanted, but it doesn't hurt as much as if I was told no straight out. I also have a hard time applying for jobs I'm not entirely qualified for, so I keep getting stuck at the kind of places I've been working for the past few years.

It has also made me feel like I'm too old for things- "real" college, for example. Plus I applied to UNH (the Thomson school, because I had bad grades) and they denied me... which hurt, especially since I heard "UNH takes everyone. You'll definitely get in!" from a lot of people.

And from playing the violin. I have a really hard time reading music, and I always have. It all just sort of blends together into one big mess, rather than me being able to see it like I would when i read words. It's like when I try to clean a disorganized room. If it's all just one big pile I just stare at it helplessly and sit down, where as if I have a focused task (like shopvacing the floor on hands and knees) I can do it without hesitation. I just get overstimulated or something. I also feel like I'm too old to start learning an instrument. When I first got it I was really excited but then I was afraid that when I went for lessons, the instructor would expect me to be better because I was an adult... that they would get frustrated with me for not being able to read music quickly. Or that they would make fun of me because the seven year olds they teach catch on quicker than I would. It was ultimately too much and my poor, dear violin has sat in its case forlornly waiting to make beautiful sounds.

Well, lately I explained to Cora that no, I don't play violin. I just have one and wish I did. So I asked her to tune it for me, and she's adjusted it a couple times because evidently the strings needed stretching. Well tonight, since everyone is asleep and I saw it just sitting there in the hall corner tempting me, I picked it up and brought it into the living room. I opened the case and lifted it gently out, picking each string to hear its noise. I slid the bow out of the case and lightly ran it across the strings a few times, but knew something wasn't right and realized the bow wasn't tightened... and then I slid the tightened bow across the strings a few times and Oh! The sounds they made. I could feel them resonate inside the violin. It sang even after I lifted the bow from the string. I, obviously, didn't actually play anything, and it probably wasn't in tune, but just those few notes (however off key they were) made me remember why I loved the violin so much.

And that is what made me write all of this, and I'm going to face at least one of those fears. I'm going to learn how to play the violin. Some how. Whether Cora teaches me (which I don't think we feasibly have time for) or I'll start getting lessons when i am working more (another fear I'm working on anyway).

And now, as I think again about that awful audition... why didn't I just recite Jabberwocky, which I'd had memorized since before I could read all of the words in it. I used to jump on the bed reciting it. I recorded myself at age 8 reciting it in what was probably an awful English accent (but maybe not). I probably would have gotten a great part, considering how long the poem is and how much emotion you can put into it, and totally destroyed the play on opening night.
But that's the fear talking again, isn't it? Most likely, I would have gotten used to being on stage, learned my lines well, and would have done all right... maybe even been in drama club in high school. Who knows?

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Step into the fear. Even if you suck ... even if you fail ... even if everything just falls apart ... they let you keep living. Really, they do! I have failed at many many things. I've been just sort of bad at many many things. I've also been awesome at a couple things. But you don't know which things those are unless you try. :)