Monday, January 20, 2014

The American (Idol) Delusion

I saw that the television show, American Idol is back on this week. I haven't watched much of that show in years - I remember Kelly Clarkston winning the first season, and Rueben Studdard and Clay Aiken facing off in the second. I think I was pretty much done with tuning in on a regular basis when Carrie Underwood won, and I'm not sure I could pick any of the winners out of a lineup after that...

Eric's favorite part of the show however, has always been the auditions. He laughs and wonders how anyone could believe that their terrible performance was Idol-worthy. He thinks it is a set up.

In part, I do too.

However, I know that some of those poor people are sincere. I know that some of them truly believe that they sing well, and that they have star potential.


Because in the fourth grade, I started taking violin class. From there until I graduated high school, I was in orchestra. I also did stints in honors choir, honors orchestra, regular choir, show choir, jazz choir, one year in the band, and several trips across the boards in various costumes and getups in the theatre. I loved performing.

It didn't mean that I was always good.

I remember the accolades, from very early on. "You were great!" "That was terrific!" At first, I believed all of them. Then, one time, I went back and saw the tapes of those fourth grade performances with a bunch of other fourth grade virtuosos.

Cats. Cats in heat. Cats in heat in a room full of rocking chairs.

See, no one tells you when you suck. No one tells you when your shirt is too tight, or you are off key, or, seriously, this is not a career line for you. Nope. They lie. They all lie with good intentions, but they lie none the less. They want you to feel good, but what often happens is that feeling good leads to a sick sort of self-delusion that allows you to ignore that niggle in the back of your head that is saying that your performance wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Sometimes you are good.

By then, however, at least for me, I have no idea how to judge if other people think so. The lies happen so often, that it's impossible to know when someone really thinks you were good, or you look good, or if they themselves are completely delusional (lulled into psychosis by the yowling cats, no doubt,) or if they just don't want to hurt your feelings.

I have a fairly good sense of perception (or, if in comparison to reality television, am incredibly self-aware!) I know when I suck and when I don't. I know when I'm calling it in (see: Monday morning work outfit and hair) and when things are going well.

So what then? The problem is that I, like most others, like validation. However, unlike the contestants on American Idol, I saw the tape. Crap smells, and my nose works. False validation on a pretty constant basis has translated into a severe skepticism of any positive validation, and as a result, a pretty severe case of self-doubt. Add in a dose of generally heightened anxiety, and you have one overthinking, neurotic kitten in this corner of the world.

I think I need to be buddies with Simon Cowell.

Maybe I can't take that level of brutal honesty...

Maybe I need to go back to sleep, because I had yet another dream of singing backup for U2 last night, this time at some summer festival on a college campus... man was I good!

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