Isn’t it funny how our own personal situations skew everything we hear through a filter of our own flawed perspective? It’s so difficult to step outside of ourselves and really hear what people are saying to us because of the assumptions, prejudices, and lack of critical thinking that we nourish in our own little dens of crazy that scientists have dubbed “our brains.” And this is not a condemnation, but rather a wishful critique. I mean, reading people is hard! When someone says that they are “fine,” we have to use our own judgement to evaluate their tone, body language, what we know about them already, what we know about their current situation, and then send it through the prism of how we are feeling at that moment to determine how we really think they are doing. And our judgement is not good. We are the same people that repeatedly make dumb mistakes. Remember that one time in college, when you did that thing? Yeaahhhhh……
So why do we think we are qualified to judge anything?
When they say: “Wow, you look great! Have you lost weight?”
If you weigh less than the last time you saw them, you think: “Yes! They noticed! All of my hard work paid off! I am super sexy!”
If you weigh the same as the last time you saw them, you think: “Wow. I guess their memory of me is fatter than I really am. I must give off a fat vibe.”
If you weigh more than the last time you saw them, you think: “Great. How fat did they think I was before?! They are probably just lying to be polite anyway. I am going to go eat a pint of Cherry Garcia.”
When you finish singing an audition and they say: “Thank you.”
If you felt that you sang well you think: “Look at all the notes they are scribbling down! They are probably trying to figure out which parts to offer to me.”
If you felt that you sang okay you think: “Did they notice that I went off my voice for two notes in the middle of the cadenza? Why won’t they look at me? What sort of feedback is ‘thank you?’ Maybe I should become an actuary like my family keeps saying. I wonder how many other people of my voice part are auditioning today? I’m going to go read the names on the audition schedule out front and try to guess what my chances are.”
If you felt that you sang poorly you think: “They hated me. What am I doing with my life?! I am going to go eat a pint of Cherry Garcia.”
When they find you after a concert and say: “You were amazing! You should be singing in New York!”
If you are young and idealistic you think: “I was amazing! I should be singing in New York! I will embark on a singing career this instant! Good bye day job!”
If you are old and bitter you think: “Bah! New York is full of fake idiots who wouldn’t know good singing if it mugged them in the park!”
If you are neither young, nor old, and have attempted for many years to have a singing career in New York, and even had some mild successes in that department, but then failed to get hired or re-hired, despite singing dozens of auditions, and then reluctantly lowered your expectations to a more reasonable level and took a job singing at this concert precisely because you could not get any gigs in New York you think: “I am going to punch you in the face. But thank you.”
So you see, even when we think we have all of the information it is hard to know how to react to people’s comments and questions sometimes. We must remember that the people speaking to us may not have all of the information either, and that more often than not, people mean well. And when they don’t? Well, that’s what the Cherry Garcia is for.