Do you look at Reality shows? Well the competitive ones like American Idol, The Voice, Survivor etc? Well I do. I like them. I like to look at people vying for attention and the lengths they will go to get it. It is fun.
I am almost always however, amazed at the dialogue that follows when they need to exit the competition:
“ I had a great time. I learnt a lot. I will never forget these memories. Thanks for the opportunity”
To these remarks, I always go…”Eh?” I would NEVER say that. I would be upset. I would be inconsolable.
The second they announce that I am ejected from the competition, my face would turn sour. I would be thinking..”The whole world just watched me fail and now I am going to be ridiculed for it for the rest of my life.”. I would be pissed. If they asked me how I felt, I would honestly give the host a death stare and then suck my teeth and probably say something like : “Steups Hold yuh backside!” (Backside would be used only because it would be on TV..other words describing anatomy come closer to mind for utterance)
And this folks brings me to my Second Lenten Revelation (Closeted Cunumunu being the first Revelation) –
I am a SORE loser!!!
I have always known it and for this reason I normally stay far away from any kind of competitive activity. It has been hard over my lifetime but I have managed to worm my way out of activities by claiming injury or lack of interest or genuine disgust for the topic or activity. It has worked. I have for the most part stayed clear of competitions and the resulting angst I know I would feel should I not be victorious.
I can’t even do self study as I need to compare myself to people and if I am not in classroom setting, I have no strong motivation to do well and no measurement criteria to determine how hard I need to study. I need to be able to separate the class into the brainiacs, the ones who are my “supposed equals” and the one I can use when I need to revise (the not so bright ones). It is very sad, but it works.
The first time i think it happened was around the age of 6. I went to a children’s party and there was a series of games. First up, a Talent Competition, i came second in the one and didn’t get a big prize like the winner. I felt the tears sprinign from my eyes but they announced musical chairs would be next. I lost that one too and before the first wail could be heard my mother grabbed and took me to a corner and shook me. “What is wrong with you? You can’t win everything! Stop the stupid crying! Everyone else is having fun and they didn’t get as much prizes as you did. Why can’t you be content?”
I didn’t know the answers to those questions at the point. All i knew is that I deserved EVERYTHING and I was going to have it! I didn’t waste my time on activities like running or football etc, nope not me. These activities did not guarantee a present especially since I was neither fast nor skilled in these areas. I prided myself in coming first in class exams and getting the highest marks. If a child beat me in a test, I grabbed their paper to take a look at it and then I gave them the death stare. Garvin Wlacott once beat me in end of second term exams in primary school and I was furious for all of the 3rd term. He didn’t like me much that term and I think to this day he still hates me. Granted that I had gotten an eye infection that term and missed a good few weeks of class and therefore had to settle for second place; but that to me was irrelevant. I needed to win!
My primary had entered me and another student in a Story Telling competition and we made the finals. Overzealous Stefan, wanting to impress the judges, overexerted himself while telling the story of “Ti-Jean and his Brothers” and therefore was out of breath and his speech could not therefore be clear to those to theback of the room. I got a consolation prize and the other guy own. He didn’t exist to me after that event and this was after I sobbed bitterly at the back of the room. The teacher who took us told me that overdid it and that is why I lost but otherwise i was really good. That made me feel better but the prize wasn’t mine. I milked my suffering at home until my mother found out why I lost and she said that she didn’t know where I got this attitude from but that it needed to stop!.
The last official competition I remember entering was in 1990. It was the Trinidad & Tobago Music Festival and I had entered the Senior Boys Solo. The Test Piece was “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind” and it was a little difficult to learn. Imagine my shock when I placed first in the North Zone round of the class. This meant I had to compete for the Championship Cup battling the Senior Boys Solo South Champion and the Senior Girls Solo North and South Champions respectively.
On the day of the competition, I was ready. I was in fine form and had a slight smug look on my face. The girls were up first and after hearing them, I knew I had a shot at the cup.
Before going on, I looked at my competitor from the South Zone and I saw him take a couple puffs of his nebulizer. I smiled to myself and said internally that there was no way Asthma boy was beating me. *Snicker*Snicker*
I was up first and I KILLED it. I felt within my heart that the Cup was MINE!!! Then Asthma boy came up and began to sing. The sound that came out of his mouth was beautiful. My jaw hung open for like a minute and in that moment I saw the cup being wrenched from my hands. It would later be confirmed that he won it and I went home with NOTHING. It wouldn’t help that agroup of students (a girls’ choir that doesn’t need to be named) form the North that I travelled with, went home with a Championship Cup. Sigh….
I went home defeated. Beaten. Deflated. I didn’t want to ever sing again. As soon as I walked through the door to my father’s house, my little brother greeted me and said : “Yuh win?” I didn’t answer. I headed straight to my room and sulked for what seemed like weeks (it was three intense days).
I didn’t like the pain that coursed through my body after that event. It hurt me even more than a broken heart. Since then, I have had my heart broken MANY times and the pain cannot compare. I never entered another festival after that or any type of singing competition.
Cut to March 5, 2012 10pm, where the much older and wiser version of myself decided to try his hand a Baritone Solo for the T&T Music Festival. I started to practise for this song in January and realised how much I had to learn about singing. I was not in a state to sing “Vaga Luna Che Inargenti by Bellini”.
WRITER’s WARNING : There is no Happy or Inspiring Ending Below
I was up first and what flowed through my being during that performance left me in awe. So much so that what normally felt like a very short song felt like it would never end that night. Nerves got the better of me and my breathing and phrasing was all over the place. The song kicked my ass instead of me conquering it. I knew I had issues with the song but I didn’t expect my nerves to get the better of me like that.
Result: I came last! Duh.. That was obvious.
However, the pain returned. Not as sharp as it was the first time but still stinging me to the core. I however can only blame myself this time. I know I wasn’t 100% ready for it and even questioned whether I should have participated or not, but I did. The resulting humiliation has me reeling this morning.
As of right now, give me heartache any day of the week, I cannot handle the feeling of defeat that is coursing through my veins. Granted I knew I wasn’t going to win but somehow I thought that I would place in the top three and the Adjudicator would commend me for my effort. Alas I am glad he made no mention of the “hot mess” that happened on that stage.
The weird this is, I am not done with the Festival as yet. I entered Broadway Solo- Male and a Mixed Duet Class. I have no idea how I am supposed to pick myself up and prepare for these two other performances as I was concentrating on that performance more than the other two.
Sigh.. When will I learn my lesson?
Some may think that I am just being melodramatic but honestly I am not (well in my mind I am not). I am using this Lenten period to come to terms with my many and varied flaws and hopefully, in the end, i will be a better man for it.
“Doctor, Doctor won’t you please prescribe me something.
A day in the life of someone else…
Don’t let me get me……”