Monthly Archives: Janeiro 2014

Compliments taken in distrust

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This week I have been dwelling on the fact that I don’t know how to accept a compliment from something I’ve done pretty well or even regarding my personality. Most of the time I’m not even aware of the things I’m complimented about. In this circumstance, the compliment gets me by surprise and my immediate reaction is either to disagree and start pointing out what is wrong, or to change the subject as quickly as I can.

I see myself as a work-in-progress, and for that find it hard to accept a compliment for something that, in my perspective, has still a long way to go. What I don’t usually realize is that I will never be a finished “product”, and that I am, in fact, the actual work-in-progress.

It all comes down to trust. All over again! This five-letter word seems to have taken over my entire life! 🙂

Why do we feel embarrassed when someone says something nice regarding ourselves? Is it that bad to be pleased in agreement, thus liking who we are, without giving the wrong impression? Even if that’s not the case, we were taught to be polite and say “Thank you”. Well, in my case I really have to agree in order to say it. How can a simple “Thank you” be so hard to say, and how come did we become so harsh and judgmental towards ourselves that we better accept our failures, being so willing to discuss and ridicule them? Why are we not able to do the same with our positive characteristics?

For me, this is more than a personal issue, it is social. Of course that it has to do with confidence, but also with its acceptance among others. Perhaps displaying lack of confidence or shyness is only a defense towards our strongly-judgmental society. It’s easier to make someone feel better about themselves when they lack confidence than to support their high ego. It is a matter of balance. People feel more comfortable supporting those who are lower in terms of self-esteem and to bring them to their own level, than to support someone with a higher level than themselves. It makes them aware of their own faults and would imply more effort than what they’re used to. However, there is an intermediate level where we all should stay as long as possible: being able to accept that what we are, our core, will please some other people, even if we don’t see it as a something that valuable.

In the end, what we spend most time trying to change, is for sure our strongest characteristic, and will be what the other people will specially appreciate in ourselves.

With this in mind, it’s time to give ourselves a break, accept what we are, and accept the compliments it may or may not bring, with sincerity. Even if we find it hard to acknowledge them, our best characteristics will always show, and thus occasionally be praised. Well, we’ll have to live with it.

What really matters…

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On Christmas eve I traveled back home, to enjoy my beautiful island, family and friends. It was a short but heart-warming visit. Among all the Christmas and New Year’s food and festivities, those brief moments, surrounded by the people I love, triggered something in me that, until then, I wasn’t willing to accept. I realized I can and should give myself a break from most of my self-judgment habit. It is not fair to deprive myself from some amour propre, and I’ve done it for long enough. Enough is enough! 

All the joy that it was to be reunited with my family and friends, the birth of a new cousin and some friends’ life changing events made me aware of what really matters in life. It’s not about being perfect in any way. It’s just about being ourselves, enjoying what that brings us and fighting for what we really want. For that, we can’t let our fears detain us. We face them, whatever they are!

I’ve always been afraid of failing, but even more of exposing those failures. But then again, who hasn’t? I keep either wishing to have remained a careless, innocent child forever or to be better than what I am now. Of course it is good to keep improving ourselves, but not when we don’t acknowledge what doesn’t need changing already.

I sometimes feel as if there is a gap between my childhood and the stage I am now. I unconsciously tend to hide my teenage (i.e. prior 20) years from the world and even from my myself. Maybe because they don’t seem significant or because I don’t feel they do me any justice. I keep saying that I wish I was still 6 years old, and in some aspects I am really not joking. Tantrums aside, I believe I was more myself back then.

With that in mind I am now on my way to recover some of the qualities I wish I’d never lost. I used to sing and dance unconcernedly everywhere, paying no attention to other people’s opinion. I was jumpy, stubborn and always singing for the joy it gave me. Sentences that made no sense? That wasn’t a problem, I’d made up words. Notes that went wrong? I wouldn’t care, I’d improvise (better than I do now). Of course I won’t ignore all my mistakes, I’ll just use them as inspiration rather than a shameful spot on my progress.

To prove that I’m seriously changing my approach to my own mistakes and to contribute (late, I know) to the Christmas festivities, here follows a video of a Christmas TV transmission I participated in 2009. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased with my performance, but now, I look at it differently, more as a step I had to take on this hard but wonderful path that is learning to sing.

After all these years I am happy to see that some of my struggles in this video are already gone and it makes me more confident regarding my current difficulties.

It is always hard for a singer to share old videos, because they expose us, they show our most obvious technical mistakes and specially because, when it comes to singing, significant changes occur from year to year, specially in the beginning.

As from this moment I’ll look at those videos with pride for being brave enough to sing despite my faults. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that” (J. Austen) no one is free of mistakes. They build us and thus play the most important part in our lives.

I hope there are still many mistakes to come!