02 October 2016

Self-Perception and Faking It

Lately I've been thinking a lot about talents and skills and our perception of them. Obviously the way we see our own abilities differs from the way others see our ability. In the same way, the way other people see their own ability sometimes differs quite widely from the way we see their ability.

I really notice this when I'm at college. You all know that I have a very poor opinion of my own singing voice and am perpetually intimidated by everyone in the entire music department in that respect. Yes, I have seen improvement in my singing, but I feel I'm still so far behind. So often I see or hear the other music majors and I think 'wow, they're so great... I wonder what it must feel like to have all this come so easily.' I mean yes I know they practice but still... they see results from their practice. They know exactly what to fix and how to fix it. They know how to improve. I just sing it over and over until I'm tired and I've logged my time for the day. I'm just faking it and still terrified that one day they will all find out I'm faking it and don't have any actual talent.

Of course I've often considered that maybe they are just as insecure about themselves as I am about myself. But recently I wondered if they listen to me sing and think similar things to what I think when they sing. The thought seems kind of ludicrous -- who in the world would be jealous of anything I have? -- but maybe they think that exact same thing about themselves too.

It's so hard to know who to seek out and encourage. It's so hard to know who's unaware of their talent. Maybe the reason we performing artists go so under-encouraged is because we're so good that everyone assumes we're aware of it when really we think we're just frauds and are hoping no-one will find out and we're hoping for some kind of sign that we aren't frauds...

One one hand it can be helpful. This constant not-knowing if I even have any business being in this program drives me to practice like a madwoman -- sometimes at the expense of my schoolwork, health, and sanity. The sheer amount of practice means that I improve at a steady pace, even if I don't see it. Plus, there are still some people in the world who look for a hard worker rather than a good-looking babe with natural talent oozing out of her ears.

However, on the other hand, there is the very real potential that not-knowing will eat me alive. I fight this every day... waking up in the morning wondering if today is the day someone tells me the horrible truth -- that they can see right through me, that they know I'm faking it, that they're not going to humour me anymore, that I'm not welcome among the ranks of the actually talented any longer. I feel like a spy in enemy territory, constantly on edge, just waiting to get caught and executed.

This is part of why I find myself trying so hard to be bland and invisible -- if I'm invisible, no-one can see that I'm faking it, because no-one can see me. But the very nature of the career means you must be seen. It's your job to be seen and heard, very brightly and very loudly. How to reconcile that without feeling even more like a fake...?

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