why do you do?

I saw an advert for a singing competition today. Not too long ago – maybe a year or so back – I would have jumped right at the opportunity to join. But I didn’t feel a thing when I saw it today. I didn’t have any urge to perform either, when I saw the invitation to perform for Collegiate Dinner. Neither did I feel any need to go for an audition that a minor record label had invited me to. But when Cheese asked me to perform at her wedding, I felt so, so happy that she asked me to.

And so I wonder, what changed? Initially I thought I was just tired of performing. Tired of putting up an act for the world, because that’s what you do when you perform. All that junk about being true to yourself when you perform – it’s quite a lot of rot; when you’re on stage freaking out with hundreds of people staring at you, you don’t project you (“you” is cowering somewhere in the region of your toes), you project a construct of you. I thought I was really tired of that.

But then, that didn’t explain why I felt happy about singing at Cheese’s wedding. One performance is very much like another. When my cousin asked me to sing at her wedding many years ago, I did exactly the same sort of prep as for less meaningful singing gigs – even though, if I remember correctly, I chickened out of singing in the end because there was no need to. (Hey, I was only 14 then!!)

So, what changed?

I’ve come to realise that it’s more than just image fatigue. It has to do with why I performed. I used to perform for acceptance. I needed the social validation badly. I wanted people to come up to me and say, you sing well, you’re awesome. And not just with respect to singing – I needed validation in everything. I used to get really upset when someone posted a negative comment on my Youtube channel, and the singing competition mania was probably just an extreme manifestation of this obsession. But now I find that I don’t need that any more. I still need social validation – everyone does, to a certain degree – but not as much as before. Did it have to do with losing weight? Maybe. Curing my buckteeth? Maybe. Becoming fitter? Maybe.

But most important of all, I think, in helping me realise that I didn’t need to be socially validated by the world at large were my dear friends. I came to realise that eventually, at the end of the day, you don’t need everyone to understand or accept you. What I really wanted was to be understood and accepted by those who meant the most to me, and they do, despite all my ridiculous quirks and idiosyncrasies.

It’s very easy to dismiss these ruminations as mere foolishness, but I think these thoughts would cross the mind of anyone whose primary source of confidence is external, as mine used to be – and still is, to a certain extent.

I still upload videos onto Youtube occasionally. I still love to sing. But the difference is, I do it for no other purpose than for the pure love of doing it, and especially, doing it for the people I love. I no longer care if I don’t sound 100% perfect, I don’t care if some people don’t like what I do, and I don’t need people telling me what a good performance that was for me to think a performance was good. Which explains the complete lack of depression that usually follows a performance as off key as the impromptu one I did at Collegiate. Haha. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to strive for perfection – the audience for whom I do this has simply changed. Praise is sweet, but a lack of it no longer deals a blow to my confidence.

Why do you do what you do, indeed?

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10 Comments

Filed under musings, pinkbrained ponderings

10 responses to “why do you do?

  1. Weijia

    haha.. nice thoughtful post there. i agree! exam really does wonders right… we suddenly have so much time for introspection lol.

    as a fellow performer I know how you feel. to a certain extent i do it for validation also, an appreciative crowd is one of the BEST experience to be had. haha… but right behind that will be performing with your friends in a tight band. (ok i’m in a band, not a singer). but yeah i love it. i’ve got a new band in the works, ahah and it’s for FAME AND FORTUNE. lol. and to satisfy my love of performing along the way. hehe

    ok random ramblings back to study.

    • u’re so right about the exam thing. HAHAHA. spending hours alone with just you and your books gives one a lot of time to think!!

      woo a new band! how excitings! what happened to your black star? when u’re rich n famous i shall brag about knowing u in law sch. heehee!!

  2. fy

    (introspection = not spending time with books ok people)

    God and friends will love you just the way you areeeeee ms gan :) talented, bratty, funny, bimbo, kind, sweet and all!

    fill your heart with joy and nothing less alright!

  3. Caits

    I like this post. I shall apply what you learnt to my life too. Wait I dont have any talent. MUAHAHAHAHA.

    *hugs.

  4. yuxin

    in my teens i used to validate myself by my academic success, by how I achieved anything I set out to achieve, and how my grades were always good enough to set me near the top of (some of) my classes. That’s something that has rather obviously changed 180degrees since law school, and i had to re-evaluate myself seriously in the first two years here. If the past 4 years have taught me anything at all, it’s how to deal with failure on all fronts of life. Not a very glam by-product of law school but i suppose some things must be learnt.

    Anyway i’m glad to hear you’ve (more or less) made peace with yourself! I think your voice is beautiful anyway, as are all other aspects of you, and your collegiate performance was not offkey! haha.

    • awww thanks! and u know, i know exactly what u mean by grade validation. I felt like such a worthless piece of scum after Year 1 and even more so after Year 2 -.- And despite its unglamness I do agree that dealing is one of the most worthwhile lessons that we’ve learnt! :D hugggg.

  5. joanna

    likes yu xin’s post

  6. cheese

    YAY! I’m so glad you agreed to sing and u like it! Unfortunately that song does indeed NOT have lyrics anywhere. I shall email u again once I discuss with Dennis whether to change song and to what song. :) I know your voice will be so beautiful and I think I will cry listening to you sing! Whahaa.

    in other news, I’ve been feeling something akin to your consciousness in performing- i joined worship team at church but that is turning out to be quite bad as my piano skills are really crap and i freaked out during my first practice so much so that I desperately don’t want to go back. But I am encouraged by your comments about just doing it because you love it, and it’s true isn’t it- if I am validated by my tiny circle of loving friends and family, why should i really care?

    Its hard to say that when people stare when you play wrong notes.

    Why I do what I do? The cheeky answer would be so that one day I can climb more street poles.

    • it’s ridiculous right? i tried deciphering the lyrics just. after listening to it 10 times, there’re still some lines i can’t make out!! hahahaha! esp the “love does not boast love is not proud does not…???!?!”

      aww don’t worry about being sucky dear! i think u play beautifully. :)) if u feel like u suck though, maybe take a break, practise more and then go back? i find that if u stress yourself out u won’t perform well either!

      HAHA! i want to see more pics of u climbing street poles!!! XD

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