Thursday, November 22, 2007

Closer to a princess ...

When I was a kid I did dancing and as a flow on from that, I got to perform in a couple of pantomimes. One of the girls that was in my dance class, and also my class at school had a Mum who was really pushy about the advancement of her daughter's talents. If you thought Soccer Mums were bad - you've never come across a Dancing Mum. They are a breed unto their own.

I remember going over to play at her house one afternoon and she told me, very matter of factly, that she was going to be an actress, but that wasn't her first choice. She'd wanted to be a princess. Her mother however had told her that was probably impossible, because she would have to find a prince to marry first. So my friend then decided that she would grow up to be an actress instead. At this age I hadn't thought to my future much beyond what I wanted to do the next weekend, or whether I'd have tonsillitis again the following week.

There was a hell of a lot of investment in my friends future career even at that stage - even though we were only in Grade 3 or 4 and must have been all of 7 or 8 at this time. Dancing, singing and acting classes that took up just about every afternoon of the school week. I remember this because I'd gone with her and her Mum, in their little blue Herbie bug on a Saturday afternoon to play at her place.

This sticks in my head, because for all the investment that went in, my friend was pretty much talentless. As a kid of 7 or 8 and really without the evils of ego, I could look at her and know she sucked badly. She was an average dancer at best - there in the front row with us because that's where her Mum wanted her to be, but always looking sideways to check she was doing the right moves, more often than not she was out of time with the rest of us. Her singing was even worse than her dancing and then there was her acting.

At the last end of year dancing concert I did, before we moved to the country, she had danced and sung a solo. This was a very rare thing on our concert night and was usually reserved for the older girls at the dance school, who were truly talented and gifted dancers. And you guessed it, she was terrible, sang off key and fluffled her dance moves (alone out there on stage, there is no one to copy!) and it was humilitating. She 'starred' in Little Red Riding Hood the holidays after we'd done Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. We went along to see it and I was embarrassed at how bad she was. I wasn't jealous of her 'big breaks', as I said there really wasn't any ego, I was just seeing the world as it was. But what I simply didn't get was why no one told her she sucked badly and perhaps should pursue a dream off the stage.

Years later, at uni we were sitting around early on a Saturday night watching the revived 'New Faces'. A young woman, with dark hair was massacring a song. It was so bad, that we agreed to change the channel for three minutes and then slip back for the scathing comments that were bound to emerge. To my delight and horror, the name came up on the bottom of the screen and it was my dancing friend from all those years ago. At age 18 she was still out there, banging away believing that she was great.

I never really thought much about the impact of her on myself as an artist over the years. I realise now that I have come to be ever so suspicious of the feedback and comments that I get. While no onw likes to get criticism, constructive or otherwise ... I've always been loathe to accept compliments. Something misaligned early on in my life, by my experiences watching my friend, that have lead me to not revel in the compliments or acknowledgements that I received. I was always too afraid that they were not really encouraging or supporting my artistic endeavours - they were just sounds bites or snippets of words that veiled the truth.

It's taken working through the Artists Way (I'm now in Week 10) uncovering this small but powerful revelation and then working through it, that has lead me to a place where I'm OK at accepting compliments (and who knows - perhaps I may even begin to accept them in my every day life also - stranger things have happened!)

I was always afraid that I had no real talent, and that I would be deluded by others that I did actually have talent. In this delusion and collusion I would confidently stride forth with my artistic endeavours, when like my friend, all I was doing was humiliating myself. Now the self doubts are quite to vocal and its almost impossible not to look them in the eye and see them for what they really are - vapid shimmering blocks of creativity, nothing concrete or real.

I believe there is *something* there in my box of talents and its something that not only I enjoy creating, but others genuinely enjoying partaking in also. Besides I just can't imagine now ever not writing ... and I'm wondering how I ever got through all those years not writing.

Now when I look back - well perhaps it would have been closer to my friend's truth to have been encouraged and supported by her Mum and others around her to groom herself as a would-be- Princess. Little girls grow out of that dream don't they?

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