Mid-June, a Thursday afternoon. I am in the Upper West Side of New York. It is raining lightly and I am stomping back towards 81st and Amsterdam. I get back to my room, shut all of the curtains so that there is complete darkness. I have nowhere to be, no one expecting me. I let myself cry, I let myself be angry, I let myself be frustrated. I tried to sleep. I couldn't. All of the sudden, I needed my laptop. I wrote this poem.
I give up.
I am not a singer
I am not your friend
I am not your wife
I am not your lover
I am not a teacher
nor a daughter
I am not your interest
nor your displeasure
I am not your happiness
nor your sadness
I just am
I walk through the streets of the city
fading in and out
of being noticed
and being no one
Those words sprung forth from me after a nearly three hour voice lesson. Mired in technical exercises, excessive chipping away at every last detail......it was intense, it was fine, but frustrating. In the end, what frustrated me the most, I think, was the ever present expectation of being "perfect." And I'm just not. I'm not perfect. Not as a singer, and not as anything else.
I've always been a "pleaser." From a very young age, it seemed that the way I knew to earn my parents' love was to be as well-behaved and "perfect" as possible. I felt, somehow, that if I behaved correctly, that would make them happy and I would be happy by default. I've tried to play this out in a variety of ways, in a variety of settings. There is one fatal flaw to all of this-- no matter how perfectly I try to play my role, I can't make anyone else happy in playing it. It's impossible. Whatever I do to play my role properly-- as student, as teacher, as daughter, as friend, as wife.....I'm setting myself up for failure. Happiness is an inside job for each of us.
I wonder to myself, if I weren't busy trying to pretend to behave a certain way because I am fooling myself that it will make x, y or z happy, how would I behave differently? What would I do differently in my life? It's scary to think that while I live a perfectly productive life, that perhaps parts of it are not authentic. How true am I to myself?
I really struggle with myself on this one. I love a lot of people. I don't shy away from responsibility. And I am a lot of things to a lot of people. But I have to admit that sometimes, I greatly tire of expectations. Some days, like that Thursday in mid-June, I want to strip myself of all roles and just "be."
And that's the curious thing........I think in reality, we are all much more than the roles we play. That we are something far greater.
I would like to be one with that.