Midweek Musing: living with – and without – applause

Sometimes these feelings arise. I don't have anything profound to say or do in response, other than to let the feelings in, listen to them, and leave the door open so they can leave again.

It seems so easy to believe I am not very good at what I do. Nominations, donations, affirmations all sparkle for a moment then (all-too-quickly) fade. The applause dies down, the lights spin round to hold another in their beam. And I am unseen.

A colleague chooses your words to speak aloud in a gathering. But friends & colleagues posting the words of any poet but you is all you feel.

Congratulations pour in for this achievement, that accomplishment, but the celebration turns to another and somehow cancels out their good opinion of you.

She takes the time to read your words, says keep that it's good, says you are doing well; but you come away still wondering, am I writing good words? Is this good enough?

You have a place in a prestigious program, have people and organisations sprinkling hundreds and thousands on the icing of your cake, to keep you where they believe you belong, but his does not bind the wounds of rejection, does not numb the sting of all those 'no's , not this time, not what we were seeking.

Invitations to speak, to publish; requests for advice and help and guidance. But still you choose to listen to the silence, hear only the absence of recognition in other corners.

How to cultivate a lasting peace, a confidence of call, an assurance of gift and worth and purpose?

How to carry the affirmation beyond the moment, so that every moment does not hold an expectation, a driving need, for more?

How to enter the joy of being, of doing, of creating, simply for their own sake, not for the acclamation of others, such a sandy base on which to build a fortress of self-esteem.

Applause is not sustainable. It will not endure. Can I wean myself off the addiction without giving up my place on the stage? Is there a way to live the rhythm of back stage invisibility so necessary before performance, and the high point of the artist's life, the reveal – ta-daa! – applause, without living for the applause?


Glenys said…
Sarah, this is so honest and raw. Many of us feel this way but don't have the words to express it as you do. What can I say but that I applaud you.

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