I was reading Ronni’s blog – Time Goes By recently and she had a post there about Age as Adventure. She quotes from Friedan’s book ‘The Fountain of Age’:
‘How freeing, not to have to worry about, or maybe even feel, those old conflicts, about success and failure, in work or love.’
This got me thinking about worrying about what people think about what you’re doing. I used to do this a lot, and still do to some extent but as I get older and gain more experience in life it is becoming less of an issue.
When I was going to school we had to wear a school uniform and I think that’s the best idea for school kids but there were casual days where we could wear what we liked. I had no input whatsoever in my first three or so years in high school so the clothes mum bought for me I usually hated. The jeans weren’t fashionable at all and I just felt like a hick so I felt like I really stood out on these casual days. Kids can be cruel and one particular day I was wearing what I thought was a lovely flowery skirt and a white or cream top when everyone else was wearing jeans. I admit this was my choice but I got teased for my fashion sense so this made me more self-conscious about what people might be thinking about what I used to wear.
This self-consciousness has extended into other parts of my life with the fear of being teased and ridiculed always in the back of my mind. These days as I’m older and hang around with more mature people, well most of the time, I don’t get teased as much and if I do I’ve learned to laugh it off and not worry about it too much. I can usually give as good as I get but it can still sting. This has taken time and it’s only when I look back at my time in high school that I wish I knew then what I knew now. A common lament I know. Youth is wasted on the young and all that.
Things brings to me to why singing has helped enormously – getting up in front of crowds and singing. My singing ain’t that bad – except when I’ve attempted karaoke and I was always too embarrassed to do that until three years ago.
Two of my friends and I joined forced a couple of years ago to sing together. At first we just enjoyed the experience as we all love singing. We plodded along for a little while not really having any direction then one night in an effort to get some direction I suggested that we all bring along a song to sing to the other two. I chose ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ by Patsy Cline. It was scary just standing up in front of two close friends and singing to them. Deep down I knew they wouldn’t ridicule me or laugh at me but it was still hard.
In a brainwave moment I suggested we sing the Patsy Cline song to our friend at her birthday in two days hence as she loves Patsy Cline. We practised and practised until it sounded fairly good. I sang the main melody and my two friends joined in to make the song sound more whole without any other musical accompaniment.
We got up at our friend’s birthday where it was all girls and said we’ve got a special present for the birthday girl and proceeded to sing. It went down really well and we were even asked to sing it a second time. Because we had thrown this together so quickly we hadn’t really had time to worry about what people might think.
Our singing get-together’s were quite adhoc. We would usually meet on a Friday after work (only one of us actually goes to paid work on a Friday so we would have to wait for her), have some dinner and drinks and then sing. It’s not really good for the voice to sing after having some drinks, and alcohol takes away the will somewhat. Also eating before singing wasn’t a good idea as we would be full. Add Friday tiredness into the mix and it’s not a really good combination for a decent practise session, especially for an acapella group with no direction.
About a year later we were having one of our singing get-together’s again one of us, K, suggested that we should sing the Pussyfoot song, ‘The Way That You Do It’. I dug around in my record collection and found it so we could hear the original, and write the lyrics down. We started practising it and then in a drunken stupor (well not quite that bad but we’d had some sparkling red by this stage) someone suggested that we sing it on our yearly safari pub crawl. Why not, we all agreed. It was in one week’s time, so at least we’d given ourselves a bit more notice this time.
It went down really well. We sang it on Popeye and got the driver to stop the boat and somehow managed to get people’s attention. Everyone ended up singing along and clapping and it was a real hoot.
We have since done two more shows where we instigated the songs and organising actually doing them. Of course, this has all been for the love of singing, no money involved at all.
After one of these instances we actually sang on stage to a captive audience of people and afterwards my adrenalin rush was present for ages. I had so much good feedback that it was an excellent ego boost and made me think it’s all worth it. We all had our doubts about what people would think – ‘Oh, no, not those girls doing singing again.’ But this has never been the case to my knowledge anyway. If none of this had gone down as well as it did I guess there would have been no feedback from people at all and we wouldn’t have been any the wiser.
I must admit that when I am singing in front of a group of people I tend to not really feel like I’m there. It’s hard to explain, I know I’m singing and getting into it but it’s almost like an out of body experience and while realising this I somehow carry on with the job at hand.
It’s a pretty common thing, people worrying about what other people think of them and/or their actions. Over at 43 things there are 20 people with the same concerns and some suggestions about how to overcome this.
So, in answer to the title of this post, No, it’s not worth worrying about what other people think.