The life of a ridiculously imaginative but mediocre performer is a strange place. I so easily imagine myself as the best of the best -- or at least as a dark horse, quietly sitting by for the longest time before actually getting up the courage to stun all in attendance with my awesome hidden talent. So then when I finally do get up and muscle past the apprehension and actually try something, I'm shocked to hear how thin the voice in my throat actually sounds, how heavy my dancing really feels, how stilted and unnatural my acting actually is.
Being imaginative, I tend to play two roles in my mind. I play the part of myself, but I also play the part of the critical crowd -- I watch myself dance as I dance, seeing in my mind's eye the horrendous technique from the audience's perspective. By the time I get off the stage I'm exhausted, but only half of it was from physically dancing. The other half was spent simultaneously creating and fighting the critical voice.
This scenario is almost a continuous narrative through my brain. It plays out over and over again. The pride: "I'm at least as good as them. I'm just going to sit here and look content while they have the spotlight but I know very well I can take it," and the fear: "I can't do this, they're all so much better than me. They'll all see how terrible I really am. How can I have twelve years of dance experience and still be this terrible? How can I call myself a performer?" And is either right? Is it right to depend on the love of the audience for my self-worth? Whether I succeed and feed the pride or fail and feed the fear, I lose either way. I can't get away from both at the same time.