Not Being Heard
June 13, 2012 § 2 Comments
If I had to pick one, just one, out of my many worries, this one would be the winner. At least, for the present moment. It’s a worry that gnaws at my soul and sends my mind into creative whirlwinds, which in turn spawn a few random writing pieces to assuage my anxiety, and finally leaves me exhausted, staring out into suburbia from my living room window in despair. There’s something about the view of a suburban neighborhood that can really do a person in.
Not being heard.
A very out-there high school friend once shared this fear with me, accompanied by a depressing Dixie Chicks song. She was insanely beautiful, with jade green orb-like eyes and olive-toned skin. She also probably had a personality disorder.
“I’m just so afraid of never being heard,” she said in a dramatic stage whisper. “So much to say, so much to give, no one to listen.”
This friend had the disturbing quality to pick up on things I struggled with quietly in the depths of my soul and then speak them aloud as if they were the latest tidbits of a gossip column. A fleeting This-Is-The-Most-Important-News-Ever-And-We-Must-Analyze-It-Till-It’s-Dead! And then, gone.
I’ve always felt like I had things to offer. Sure, once I sit down and write, or go on stage to perform, I’m attacked by insecurity from every angle, pummeled till I’m barely standing. But still, there has been always been a feeble voice echoing from the back of my mind: You’ve Got Something Special. But what if the Something Special is never realized, never shown to the world, never given wings?
My mother has been feeding this anxiety lately. “Why don’t you publish something?” She asks while I type yet another story that will become lost in my overflowing Documents folder. “If you never publish anything, the world will never know what you can do. Stop wasting time on crap that can’t get published.” Then while watching America’s Got Talent: “You can sing just like that, even better! This kid’s on TV! Why don’t you do something? All you’re doing is lying on the couch.” Then while perusing book aisles, she’ll pick up Dear Vodka, Are You There? It’s Me, Chelsea and just toss me a significant look that says clear as if she were speaking over a loudspeaker: So, she’s published, but you’re not. Hmph. The “Hmph” is specially pronounced.
These remarks from my mother seem to suggest a lack of ambition on my part, and maybe she’s right. Talent is nothing without ambition, somebody important once said. I look at the Katy Perrys of the world croaking out something unintelligible at the Grammys and hold my head in my hands. That girl probably went from record company to record company. She probably packed up and moved places and scouted out agents and refused to back down. Who cares if she can’t sing? She’s got a record-breaking album and a big house and cool colored wigs.
I do try to motivate myself, and the truth is, I can read and write a ton. I can produce the work. I’m just not so good at finding the opportunity to do anything with it. I guess I could Google for hours on end, clicking on links and reading through different contests and publishing tips for young adults. But I just don’t feel like it. I’d rather write. Or cuddle with my dog on the couch watching reruns.
I also have to grapple with the fact that part of me, a big part of me, still seeks fame as a means for self-validation. I think of how exciting it would be to have the eyes of the world on me as I casually strolled down the red carpet, acting as if I could totally be doing a million more exciting things. I’m not going to lie, and it’s not very noble, but I’ve envisioned such a life. Nothing says I’m Most Definitely Here And Everyone Saw Me better than being a celebrity.
But my fear of “Not Being Heard” extends to more than just my art never being heard, my talent. I worry my mother, who I struggle just to make light conversation with, will never know how much I care about her, or how much I worry about her. I worry that the important people in my life will never know all of Me, or how much I think of Them. It’s not that if I bothered to say It all, my words would fall on deaf ears. It’s that sometimes I feel deaf. Mute. I’m stamping my feet and throwing my fists around, purple in the face, trying, trying to speak so that they can listen. But my mouth stays resolutely shut. Or says, So how’s everything with you?
I found this quote right now, and it helps a bit. Not Being Heard Is No Reason For Silence. Even if the world isn’t ready to listen just yet, or even if I don’t have just the right words, I can still write. Act. Sing. I can keep talking. And maybe someday They’ll listen. And even if They don’t, I can take pride in what I’ve done. I can say, well, I thought it was pretty darn good.
So to all the struggling artists out there, I say, sing. Speak. Do whatever it is you do, and do it often. Just for the simple reason that you’re talented, and because it brings you joy. And there are people listening. I am.