The Talent Show Horror

Think about what you wanted to accomplish last week. Did you? What are the things that hold you back from doing everything you’d like to do?

There was always a talent show held at school. Every year of elementary, middle, and high school. The first one started in kindergarten or first grade I believe. Many kids would be in it and show off what they are supposedly good at (much of the singing and dancing lame but still applauded by the audience of eager parents and friends), while many others were either too afraid or didn’t think they had any talent worth showing. I was always one of the kids who would have been too afraid to go on stage and have hundreds of pairs of eyes staring at me while I tried to do whatever I chose as my ideal talent (singing always was the last thing on my mind). What talent did I really believe I possessed at seven years old? Nothing ever seemed to be apparent. I guess I could have performed as a mime because I was already so good at being quiet.

I never was in this kind of variety show that sort of acts like a test to see if you have any future in the entertainment business. And if you weren’t in it or at least tried, it seemed as if you were toast for any future consideration in plays or musicals because “no one knows what you’re good at” and will never be pushed to participate. Never the one to ever want to be the center of attention, it was usually me watching from a shadowy seat in the 40th or so row while someone would be belting out to a popular song of the day (in the late 90s it was “All Star”), doing absurd backflips, juggling, or some other talent that could only be God given in my opinion. I didn’t envy any talents I saw particularly good but just wished I could get over my fear of stage and actually show what I had within myself, whatever it was. But I was too shy and reserved. That was the hill I had to get over.

Then high school came and thoughts of having any talents worth showing to the public were about evaporated. I never believed I could actually sing (karaoke doesn’t count, please) and my dancing was okay but nothing special, just moving my legs around in an incoherent manner. Backflips, somersaults – if I ever tried those things I would probably break my neck.

One day in about eleventh grade though, I actually had the bold thought that I was going to be in the variety show and show off a talent that might actually make me the most popular person in the school. I had the craziest idea that I would choose a song, an appropriate, well liked one for the matter, and sing it with my greatest efforts, trying to finally prove I had a gift worth talking about. I even started preparing by singing in front of the mirror and while on long walks by myself, trying to project my perfect song voice.

But around the week before the “auditions” were to begin (could anybody just get in?), I panicked and came to my senses that it would be very embarrassing to try to sing or dance in front of everyone for the first time. It would have probably been okay when I was little when no one cared if you made a fool of yourself, but in this present time I felt even more pressure to be cool and not do anything stupid that would give others a bad impression of me.

guitarsSo, with the butterflies in my stomach, I’ll stick to singing in the shower where no one can hear me, and dancing with large crowds in the dark where everyone seems the same. I do have talents, yes, but they are not always apparent or visible to people. I believe I am a much better writer than I was years ago and am getting more seasoned with poetry. My photography skills have also gotten much sharper. But those aren’t things I could actually showcase on any talent show at school or on TV. I tried learning to play the guitar and piano but need so much more practice. Two guitars sit at home that have been played a lot, but I’m still no rock god.

 I guess what I’m trying to say here is we all have a special gift within us that doesn’t always have to be applauded for. Whatever it is you’ve got, make sure you embrace it and love it and don’t let others discourage your path to happiness and success with it. With a lot of hard work and practice, anything is possible.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Obstacle Course.”

Pressure Cooker

“Pressure makes diamonds”  – George S. Patton Jr.

I believe some of the most pressured situations I’ve been in were interviews for jobs where you are given that deadly question, “Tell me about yourself”. I know it’s coming but I never seem to be prepared for it. Now, the first time I got this, I stuttered, blubbered, and scrambled to come up with a decent answer. I usually tell them about graduating from college and what I did, and then go into what qualities I possess that would be good for the job. The most difficult thing about interviews is setting yourself apart from everyone else who gets interviewed so you’ll be remembered later on. Putting yourself ahead of the noise. I usually fail at interviews, even if I’ve gotten better with eye contact and providing quicker answers. The pressure is on when you know within the first couple of minutes if they’ll be interested in hiring you or not, just by looking at their expressions.

Other situations of pressure from high school: Working against the clock to finish a tough test, under pressure to learn how to drive like most people at the age of 16, panicking against the deadline to ask a girl out to the dance before someone else does (or just going it alone like I usually did), the pressure to be the popular kid and do all those popular things (and then fall back down to earth once you graduate). All things that in the end did not matter that much, were trivial. I look back on high school now and think “man, if I only knew what I knew now, I could have aced all of those things, would have ruled the school, could have asked any girl out if I wanted to.”

When I’m under pressure, I tend to want to work harder than ever to get things done. There’s a force that pushes me to complete the goal. My adrenaline gets kicked up a notch, my actions sometimes don’t seem to be my own, I sometimes do things that aren’t exactly like me. I forget about failure and focus on the finish line, doing anything I can to get there.

Without pressure, I’m working at my own pace and many times procrastination creeps up in my work, such as times when I had an important essay to write for college but kept delaying it to watch YouTube videos or play games on the Internet. When I need to get that essay done in as little as two days, then all bets are off for playtime. I even have to resist getting up to eat a snack because I’ll soon lead myself into letting the time pass.

True, not being under pressure is where some of my best work comes about, such as when I’m not working against the clock to finish this blog post before the end of the day. Anything to do with writing and creativity takes time and patience – rushing it only produces half baked results. That hot under the collar feeling I get when time is getting short and I’m stuck on the 50th of 100 questions on the chemistry final (it never was my thing), forces me to dig deep and concentrate on everything I’ve learned about that subject, sometimes even putting down my best educated answer.

But the truth is, I hate pressure. It only serves to make me second guess myself and wonder if I could have done better if I only had more time. Worst of all, it makes me sweat, have severe anxiety, and puts me under stress, sometimes with me pulling at my hair or picking at a scar.

Haste makes waste. I need time for my ideas to form and come together. I feel more satisfaction at a piece of work that I took the time and effort to complete, instead of something that I made in a few minutes and might get not much recognition and respect. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Heat is On.”