‘Hi-ya! My name’s Katie and…well, yeah…I’m a musician and I play music. Well, instruments, errr you know, with other people….sometimes on my own though. It’s like reeeeaaally fun. I guess I’m good. Hahaha. *Cue Awkward Silence*. Yeah. That’s me’.
The above is a classic example of what happens when I am asked to introduce myself to a group of people who know nothing about me.
Introducing oneself to others seems simple enough, right? Apparently, not for me. Every, single, time I have been asked to do this, I forgot everything. Literally.
Like, my name, what I do, the English language. That kind of thing.
My intension is always to come across like a normal human being. But struggling to string words into some sort of a coherent sentence, combined with my rather agitated and sweaty state, more than likely leads people to the conclusion that I am a right weirdo.
It is fair to say that I’d rather do ANYTHING than talk to a group of people, sitting there silently with their beady eyes fixed on —-> ME <—-. I’d rather tussle with a grizzly bear, or swim the channel, ride my bicycle aaaallll the way to England (and back again), listen to Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red on repeat all day long….ok, I think that last one was perhaps a step too far, but you get the general idea.
I have been on this Earth for *cough* *cough* years and have never figured out exactly WHY any situation that involves me being the centre of attention makes me so uncomfortable.
And btw, I’m not talking about being a little nervous. I’m talking full-on fear.
Let me clarify; I’m totally fine in social settings with a group of friends. I love being on stage performing with others and adore my role as a side musician. I also enjoy meeting new people and having really interesting conversations.
I used to perform regularly as a solo artist but now feel more comfortable playing ‘background music’ kinda gigs (I wrote a blog post about it a little while ago).
For whatever reason, the moment I am the one in the spotlight and everyone in the room is looking at me silently…it’s game over.
As mentioned in other posts, I’m a Libra. Trust me when I tell you, I think about this kind of thing, A LOT. You know those *really* annoying toddlers, tugging at their poor parent’s clothing, incessantly asking the same banal question over and over and over again (WHY? WHY? WHY? BUT…..WHY?)
That’s basically my brain. An annoyingly curious creature that won’t let anything go until there is an acceptable explanation, answer or solution.
Thankfully for my own sanity, I recently had a rather interesting conversation with a musician friend that may well shed light on why I feel the way I do.
He and I were talking about this very topic. I was as honest with him as I’m being with you now, and he confessed that he related to a lot of what I was saying.
After some time going back and forth with ideas and opinions, he said something that really resonated with me.
“I think the reason we don’t like being the centre of attention, is because growing up it was never a good thing”.
Holy crap! That’s *exactly* why I feel the way I do.
When I was 11 years old, I moved to a new school, and from that day onwards I can’t think of a single moment where being the centre of attention was ever a good thing. Not one single time. If I was at the front of the class, it was because I was in trouble. There were multiple times I was made to stand in front of everyone by my teacher and mocked for my work. I am dyslexic and seriously struggled with both reading and writing to the point that I could barely do either when I left school at 15. My teachers weren’t the slightest bit interested in my creative talent, which in their eyes held little value in the real world. They would share their opinions of me with the rest of the class on a regular basis and expected me to amount to very little.
For the most part, school was certainly not about thriving, but surviving. I kept my head down and wanted to get through each day without getting picked on. Noone wanted to hear me play music or do anything creative for that matter. Imagine putting a fish on land and expecting them to run, and then telling them they are useless because they can’t do anything useful on land. But put them in the water and they thrive. My last day of school was one of the happiest days of my life. Finally, I was free to work towards my dream job of being an itinerant musician.
And fortunately for me, my life is pretty awesome, and I turned out ok 🙂
I’ve no idea if I’ll ever be able to stand up in front of a group of people and introduce myself without getting all sweaty and tongue-tied, but at least I have some sort of idea as to where this irrational fear may well have come from.
I don’t harbor any resentment towards those teachers. I actually feel very sorry for them. I can’t begin to imagine not having the capacity to be either kind or compassionate. These two qualities are at the core of my being, and I don’t want to be anything other than kind.
The things that happen to you as a child shape and mold you into the person you become, but the wonderful thing about being an adult is that you finally have choices, and you can be whoever the heck you want to be.
❤ ❤ ❤