So what new thing did you do this week? Run five miles? Drink a smoothie? Avoid alcohol for two days straight? If you did none of these things (just like me), congratulations for going against the conformity of the first week of January and accepting that ‘ya are who ya are’.
It’s better to pretend that we’re taking a stand against the status quo, rather than admitting that we wanted to, but just couldn’t be asked. I did complete at least one of the promises I made to myself this year though, and that is ‘Following the Fear’. Continuing on with this month’s vague theme of Doing Something New, I went to my first poetry open mic night of 2016. Granted, it was not my first ever open mic by any means, but it was the first one in months that I’ve attended where I actually read some poetry on stage.
So where’s this fear that you followed?
I hear/ imagine you just cried, Reader. Well the fear came in the form of going to this event alone. Again, not the first time, but due to extreme anxiety and self consciousness, every time often feels like the first time. In theory, I have no problem going most places solo, and I even mentioned to a work friend the other day that if I waited for my friends every time I wanted to go somewhere, I wouldn’t go anywhere. With the best will in the world, I live in London, where everyone is always busy doing something else with someone else, and me and my friends have to book in time together a month in advance, because we’re adults and have gotten used to just squeezing in time with friends, unfortunately. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; growing up doth suck sometimes.
However, most of the time growing up also means going wherever the hell you want and answering to no one. So with that in mind, I sometimes go places alone and I’ve become pretty comfortable in my own company by this point. But going to an evening event where the lights are dimmed and being alone makes you stand out, can make a pretty independent person seem like a desperate loner. And this is where I thank f**k for poets and poetry nights.
Not only was I not the only one there alone, but I was surrounded by my fellow creatives who also relish those moments of melancholy, with the understanding that pain and shame are usually where the best poems come from. So I was on my own but I was definitely not alone. What’s more, I spoke to FOUR strangers (my inner introvert thanks me), and when I read my poetry people came up to me afterwards telling me how much they loved it.
I mean, come on, ten points to me for following the fear, if I do say so myself! To be honest, I don’t know if the same thing would have happened if I had been with someone; whether my reading of the poems would have been different or less connected because I would have been worrying about what a non-poet friend might think of the whole thing
Who knows, but next week is looking a lot brighter because of it. I might even go to the cinema alone! Probably not though; I have some limits.