Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Shy Performer

I realized the other day that "musician" is one of the words that I use to describe myself in my Blogger profile. However, I've never really clarified what I mean by "musician." At the time I wrote the profile, I was learning to play guitar, and I assumed that by the end of that year I would be fairly good. That, I'm afraid, was a poor assumption. I simply did not have the time to continue practicing guitar, and I did not have enough passion for the instrument to make time to learn it.

However, I still consider myself a "musician" in some ways. I come from a very musical family. My dad actually is a musician, and music of all types could always be heard in the atmosphere of my home. I'm always listening to something, singing something, or humming the tune to some very random, off-the-wall song. I don't know how well I can sing in comparison to other people (although I do know that I can carry a tune), but I know that I certainly like to sing, and that's enough for me.

Anyway, this love of singing helped me sign up for a karaoke competition that my college is doing. In a knock-off of "American Idol," the contest held auditions in each of the dorms and apartment complexes across campus. One contestant will be selected from each area, and later this month all the contestants will sing a song, karaoke-style, in front of over 1,000 people. There's a pretty nice prize for the winner, so I thought it couldn't hurt to try out.

I auditioned last night. There were only about seven people from my apartment complex signed up, so the competition wasn't too large, I suppose. I sang Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Oddly enough, I wasn't nervous at all going in. I am rarely nervous, actually. However, as I was singing my heart started to flutter, and my voice cracked a little about halfway through the song. I finished the best I could, and left a little embarrassed. At least I had fun hanging out with the other contestants while I was waiting for my turn!

Anyway, I doubt I'll win my area. Some of the girls that were auditioning could really sing and took voice lessons. Either way, I'm surprised that the thought of winning, which means I'll have to perform in front of a huge crowd, doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I'd really like the opportunity to perform in front of a huge auditorium full of people. Isn't that strange for someone who, in a lot of ways, considers himself shy? Perhaps performing is different than normal social situations.

I'm certainly a quiet person in my day-to-day life. I'm involved in tons of stuff and try to talk to everyone, but I don't really say much of substance, if you know what I mean. I'm a bit plain, even though I'm involved. That's fine with me. It's my personality. It's just not exactly the kind of personality that one would expect from someone who likes the thought of being a performer. I mean, I'm applying to be on the next season of "Survivor," yet I consider myself quiet and plain.

Am I just a little delusional, or is it really possible to be shy, yet at the same time willing to show your bare essence -- whether it be through stage, music, writing, or television -- to groups of total strangers? It's weird. I guess I just have a tendency to wear lots of different personalities and hats, depending on the situations and company. Maybe I have a split personality. :)

Well, thanks for reading this random introspection. Hope you all have a great day!


Brandon said...

That sounds like me when it comes to acting. I'm usually a very shy sort of person, but in what plays I've been in, it's not bothered me much at all to be in front of rather large crowds. Go figure.

Good luck with the competition, and I for one look forward to seeing you on Survivor (great show).

kurt_t said...

I think a lot of shy, reserved people are attracted to performing because performing can feel like a much safer means of interaction than a real life situation, like talking to people at a party or going on a blind date.

When you perform, you have a script, you've rehearsed it, the audience is sitting there quietly. And you don't have to be yourself. You can be somebody else. Even if you're yourself you're not yourself. Elvis on stage was not the same Elvis who sat around in his pj's eating bacon and shooting the TV set.

Drew from Memphis said...

Hey man Im glad I came across this site. Today I had a World lit class in which I was told by the professor that I was ignorant for being a Christian, blind for believing in the Bible. What do you think about this? Drop the class or tough it out?

tilts_at_windmills said...

Hey, Jay! To answer your question on the other comment section, law school eats my life (also my conscience and my soul ;) ) sometimes. I’m still reading, even when I don’t comment.

Nah, you’re not delusional. I’m the same way. You’d be amazed how many law students and lawyers are shy in real life, but still love the courtroom. I think the part of your brain you use in a performance is totally different from the one you use in a normal social situation.

That’s probably doubly true with any kind of art. I mean, even the rawest-seeming work, like Plath’s “Daddy,” has been carefully constructed; it looks like an unfiltered experience because it’s designed to, but it’s light years away from a diary entry. What you’re sharing with people when you sing or write isn’t your bare essence. If it was it wouldn’t be art.

Also . . . Survivor? Really?

Brandon said...

I think Kurt hit the nail on the head. That's it exactly, I think. At least for myself. As if to be on stage in any capacity is to be absent of one's self, like a suspension of time and place, and person, I suppose. Great observation.

Brady said...

Jay, I see what you're saying. I'm somewhat the sameway too. For me, I think it comes down to being comfortable.

At work I'm very outgoing. I've hired all of our employees, so they all know me, and I'm constantly saying hello, having people drop in to talk, etc. I'm very social.

But outside of work, I think most people would be very surpised to hear that my work personality is like that.

The thing is, I'm fairly shy when I'm meeting someone new, in a new environment, or just not completely comfortable with my surroundings, but when I'm comfortable I come out of my shell.

I think it's the same for you--you feel comfortable singing because you like it and always have been around it, so it overcomes your shyness.

Jay said...

Brandon and Kurt: Very good observations. I was thinking along the same lines but you said it much better. Hope you're well!

Drew: I'm really not sure... I've never had that experience before, and to be honest I don't think I'd be prepared for it. He's certainly being ignorant for not allowing you to have your views (but I don't suggest calling him that).

Just try to be respectful and tolerant of his positions, but don't let him push you around. Ask friends and spiritual leaders around you who know of this professor and can speak more to the details of the situation. Thanks for stopping by!

Tilts: Those are very good observations about art. Art is refined essence, I think. Obviously, it has a lot of the artist in it, but it has been controlled and contained... And of course, controlling essence takes a lot of skill.

And yes, Survivor. It's my favorite show and I sent in my application today. :-)

Brady: Hey! I've really missed hearing from you. How have you been? It seems you agree with everyone else. I suppose a shy performer isn't that contradictory after all. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think everyone has a desire to let others see them and to be recognized, no matter how shy or reserved they are. So go for it, and good luck.