Monday, May 17, 2010

Performance Anxiety and Overcoming Fear of Failure

I thought long and hard about all this today, this competition business.....

The Wellspring Bardic Chair. I know you are probably tired of hearing about it and my insecurities related to it. However, as I spent some time really looking at my life and what sorts of things have gotten me to where I am, I realized that some things from my past are still hurting.

Musical performance: In 7th grade (I know, I told you it was too much information), our jazz band was asked to play at the high school music concert because we were really good. I had a lengthy solo that was well above skill level for a seventh grader, and many people came to hear me play it "on the big stage." When it came time to play my solo, I stood up and went to the microphone with my saxophone, but I didn't count my rests. I relied on the drummer's music cues to tell me when I was supposed to play. Problem was, the drummer made a huge mistake. I played one note, then the rest of the band came in, and I realized I was in the wrong place. Not having any music in front of me (because we were taught music was a crutch), I just couldn't find my place. After my allotted amount of time, the trumpet player began her solo, and I sat back down in my place. Afterward, all everyone could talk about was my mess-up instead of the greatness that was our jazz band. My shortcomings had succeeded in overshadowing the accomplishments of everyone else.

Spoken Word: In high school, I was part of an elite group of third-year Spanish students who were asked to compete in a multicultural event at Bethany College in West Virginia. I was charged with the most complex competitions: the Monologue. I memorized an entire creative writing piece in Spanish, and we even went to the auditorium during class a few times to get us used to performing on the stage. I did very well in rehearsal, and everyone was so sure I would win they filled my head with all sorts of wonderful ego-boosting comments. In the end, I came in 6th. I stuttered a bit a few times, but I did manage to get it all out with some semblance of dramatic fashion. Looking back, that's not bad, but some people were really disappointed and let me know about it.

This has been the root of all of my "paper" issues. This is why I am the "clipboard Queen." I need the script because some of the things I have been asked to do are too important for me to mess up, especially in ritual, and I fear that guilt that follows when I know someone was counting on me and I failed.

Here we are, more than ten years later, I find myself suddenly in the throes of competition once more, and I think I am going to vomit. Even though I know that my Grovemates and many other friends I have made in ADF would never, ever be so harsh as to judge me for not being the best, it is still a fear of mine that I will let people down. So I hide behind my guitar, because the music does the same thing for me that the paper does in ritual--it shows me where I am, where I am to go, and tells me when I am done. It's crutch, I know, but it's like dieting. You can't just stop eating.

So, why am I competing? I would like to say it's for my Grove. I would like to say it's for the Kindred, though I fully admit and yell it aloud that I couldn't do any of this without them. No. The competition is for me. I admit that the thought of competing against ANYONE from Sassafras is daunting to say the least, but all I can really do is be the best me that I can be, no matter with whom I am competing, and learn to be content with that. This is a lesson I aspire to learn.

These are merely the highlights of my introspections today, but the bottom line is that I fear more than anything that I will let people down, again, and I'm pretty sure that is just me projecting my desire to keep from letting myself down onto others. So I will go and compete with a smile on my face and a fire in my heart. I will be offering up the best of my best with the names of the Kindred on my lips. Like last year, I am competing without paper, but unlike last year, I am polishing the dramatic presentation as best as I can. I want to believe I have what it takes to be more than just a musician, though I would be content to sing my praises to the Kindred and serve as the Bard of my Grove forever. But I'll never know if I don't try.

Missy's stepping out from behind her guitar. And it scares the hell out of her.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wow, How's that for unexpected results of shameless selfishness?

*Vague because it's not my place to say*

I made an "executive" decision a couple weeks ago that has been a catalyst for disaster tonight. I can't even tell you how much my heart hurts right now from the knowledge that I had a hand in this mess. Worse, I have tears in my eyes for watching these two people whom I love dearly go through this.

I make a lot of effort in my life to refrain for actions that will cause pain or heartache for other people, because I used to be so bad at this.

Once upon a time, I was young and spontaneous and full of vigor. I was thin and "villanous," and I knew it ("Villanous" is an inside joke). It was fun to be spontaneous! I had the freedom in my heart to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted! Except...

I had a bad habit of breaking dates with people, overscheduling, and cancelling plans. I was known just as much for my intensity as for my spontaneity, and I would spend my time with the focus of my intent while cancelling plans at my whimsy with everyone else. I also had a lot of "undiscovered polyamorous tendencies" that just lead to a stream of broken hearts in my wake. (I meant it when I said that if you guys had known me when, you wouldn't have liked me). Even with all of this, I had such a zest for life and a charismatic personality that people would reschedule for me. Every time. I made people feel better about themselves when I loved them. And they yeided to me. Man, I was such a bitch.

When I began working with Athena, she was like, "and you're done." I won't give you the entire run-down of all that, but I learned to exercise wisdom in decision making and to follow through with my word. Oh, there is so much more!

The relevant point is that I made myself learn to adhere to schedules, to always do what I said I would do, and to consider first and foremost the emotions of others before I made decisions. I was also heavily tempered by motherhood. I know I am still a work in progress, but I have come so far already. I can't wait to see where I am in five years from now.

Looking at this growth makes it hard to handle when I hurt someone. Even worse when it's more than one person. I suppose the positive aspect is that this, which used to be the norm, is a rareity. I apologize for my mistake. May forgiveness be sweet enough to equalize the bitter taste in my mouth.

Monday, May 3, 2010

3CG Beltaine

Beltaine is always a weird time of year for me. As someone with a LOT of natural sexual energy, I tend to be highly unfocused. Knowing this about myself, I decided to embrace the chaos within this year and give up trying to focus, apparently, because I brought all three kids to the rite. :D

More seriously, I brought all three children to the rite today. Jessie would have been here either way, and I will post more about her in a moment. Today was Patrick's first rite, and as I suspected, he was pretty bored. Kids and church tend to be almost universally predictable that way. I was surprised that he didn't join in the Maypole dance however, since we've done them every year for the past eight, and this was our first year not doing one at home. He told me he just wanted a year off, LOL. I love that kid so much it hurts.

Maypole dance was AWESOME. I felt really full after it was over, and I needed that. I liked the fact that we built up all that energy and then released in into the Earth Mother with the intent to offer her healing. That was beautiful and the imagery helped me to actually release it, which has been a problem of mine.

Timmy was Timmy. I am ever grateful to my Grove from embracing him as is without any complaints or frustrations other than not really knowing what to do to interact with him. And knowing that there is a desire to interact with him means more to my heart than you could ever know. My Grove family has, as usual, proven to me that they are amazing. This time because of their never-ending capacity to love.

Jessie, my little Pagan child, was so adorable. She and I learned the songs for the rite beforehand, and she sang like a champ! She also has a knack for meditation, which is slightly unexpected for such an energetic six-year-old. She will be seven next month, age of reason, I'm told, and I look forward to the ways the Kindred manifest themselves further in her life.

The rite itself seemed to go well. I was highly distracted and even outside for much of the rite. I was also running on two hours of sleep. I ended up crashing pretty hard when I got home, and for a short while, I thought I might vomit. I am feeling a little better now, having had an additional four hours of sleep. I think I am going to have to start putting my foot down and not doing these rites that happen so early in the day when I've worked the night before. I need to suck up the fact that I just can't handle it. Next year, when I am not working nights anymore, this will all go away. Until then, I need to accept the fact that it's selfish of me and that the Kindred and my Grove members don't want me to hurt myself to serve them. I just frickin' love doing it. Maybe I can offer to provide some "training" for another Grove member to take up the role of Bard for those rites?

And the Ancestors Box is back in it's spot on top of my piano. I plan on teaching Jessie about the Ancestors this time round, because I have seen that she is ready. It's a difficult line to walk, this teaching children Druidry business. She takes everything I say verbatim without question. I find I am constantly asking her, "well, what do you think about that?" to promote her thinking for herself. That's almost funny to say, and those of you who know my little sprite will agree, because she is such a stubborn and strong-willed child. I think she just loves and trusts her mom. :) Kindred help me to deserve that!