Performance is built into us. We are taught that if no one saw it then it doesn’t matter. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? So if a tree falls in the woods or whatever. If you do something good and no one knows, does it count? I remember trying to communicate what I wanted to do when I was a real life adult, I must’ve been about 6. The only analogy that I could think of was that I wanted to invent the toaster. I didn’t care if people knew I invented it or if it had my name on, I would explain, I just wanted people to have toast. Surely that’s a great example of how kids are so pure. I hadn’t let that expectation of performance get to me yet.
Tonight one of the best musicians I know played a random, unplanned open mic. He’s been recording for months so hasn’t played live for a while, but this guy is incredibly talented, I’m sure he was amazing. Still, he didn’t love it because he felt like he wasn’t at his best. I talk about music a lot, I know, but it’s because it’s so intrinsically a part of all our lives and a part that people don’t think about all that much. The thing is, if you take a moment to think about what it means to you, it can reveal a lot. So I’m sure I’ll always have more to say. This guy, I’m sure, impressed everyone else but still it wasn’t good enough for himself. He was unprepared and didn’t feel his best. The thing that I want to bring to the table is, who the fuck cares?
When I ran a restaurant, I would dress professionally, talk to customers eloquently and come across well informed. Everyone assumed I was a student because surely I wouldn’t choose to be in hospitality. A sixth form principal once told me he was confident I would get in when I applied for his school and didn’t even tell me the entry requirements because I “looked smart”. I have always performed as a professional person, at least on first impressions. Bizarre considering my friends know me as the crazy, weird girl, but okay. It proves my point that society doesn’t care who you are, as long as you show a good face to the world. What’s worse is that face can’t just be anything. Nope, as a woman you have to be skinny, but curvy, clever but not too smart and confident but not a bitch. Men have to be strong, but sensitive, tall and built but without too many muscles and ambitious but home for dinner every night. Really, it’s not about what you want or how you feel it’s about what you say and do, which I agree with to a point. I agree in the sense that if you don’t like something, change it. People that complain constantly then do nothing can frustrate me at times, although I understand how hard change can be, and it’s especially hard when you feel like you have to reach this impossible standard to be valued. When did we as a society forget that people matter and what they want and how they feel is who they are, not their job title or car?
If you breathe, you have value and you deserve your space on this world. I’m getting to know more and more people who need to relearn that as an adult. Do you think that when I was 2 I would have worried about getting up on a stage and singing? Not a chance, but now I’ve had to learn again that if I want to do something, even if everyone else’s opinion is that I can’t, then I have to right to go and make it happen. I wish that we could take our eyeballs out sometimes and put them in someone else’s face so they can see themselves how we see them. Since, so far, that’s impossible (come on science, catch up), we each have to find our own way.
Some people are great at the performance, and good for them. I’m not. If I think people aren’t seeing the real me it makes me feel uncomfortable. I like me and I don’t want to do things purely for the applause. I have my own applause in my head now days, for things that no one else cares about. I’m good at celebrating my own little wins now, and I’m great at hyping my friends up. I even have a playlist for my best friend full of strong, independent “you got this gurrl, you do you!” kind of songs. I’m not impenetrable to this pressure though, and that’s why I don’t share my writing. I love writing and I don’t want to set it free to be stepped on and stamped on by the masses. I’ll work on that but I really wish I could see people take their own experiences and value themselves more. My friend should have enjoyed that open mic for what it was, but our culture has fucked him over. I know he would have nailed it without even being there and I know that because not only is he very talented, but he’s a great person, so everything he does is great. He thinks he just wasn’t good enough. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it 83959 times more, who the fuck cares what anyone else thinks?!