Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grow Up, Em.

I remember in my Child Development course at BYU, we covered the three myths of adolescence. One was the Myth of Invincibility, teenagers believing they can never die. I've forgotten the second myth, but the gist of the third was (in much more eloquent words that I do not now remember) that every teenager believes that everyone is watching them and talking about them and noticing their every mistake. I thought I had long ago matured beyond adolescence, but I found out otherwise last Sunday.
The organist in our ward is a woman, whom, for the sake of protecting the innocent, we will call "Carol". She is a wonderful musician and a very kind person. She also sits on the second row in Relief Society every Sunday where I am the pianist. Every time I make a mistake, I cringe, thinking (without any justification) that Carol must have noticed and thought badly of me (after all, I'm sure she never makes a mistake). Every time I embellish the music during prelude or postlude, I'm sure that Carol, sitting 5 feet away, is chuckling inside at my pathetic attempts. She is the only person in that entire room that makes me feel self-conscious about my playing, and she's not even doing anything.
I had been asked by the Relief Society Choir Director to play the piano at a musical number. I told her I would be delighted, but that I was unable to make the first practice. She said it would be fine, that Carol could cover the accompaniment for practice, and she would get me the music on Sunday at church. On Sunday, she and Carol were talking music after Relief Society, so I joined them, thinking they would want me to get the music. Kennan, the chorister, said, "Oh, Emilee. Apparently Carol and I had a miscommunication, and we both got accompanists for the musical number. I know you were going to have to get a babysitter to make it to the meeting, so are you okay if Shanda plays instead?"
Carol looked at me in surprise and said, "Oh. Do you play the piano?"
I was completely taken back, and at first just a teeny bit offended. Yes, Carol, I have been playing the piano, five feet from you, in Relief Society, for an entire year. And then I saw the irony. All my self-conscious worries were focused on a person who hadn't noticed me at all.
I'll start trying, once again, not to take myself too seriously. (And maybe I can stop acting like a 13-year old.)

13 comments:

Kate said...

I'm exactly the same! I always feel like someone is out there thinking "Why would they ask her to play??"

Except in my current ward, there is hardly ANYONE who can play the piano and only one other organist who is a very very old man who is... well, old. So now I don't care as much.

But I still TOTALLY get it. :)

adventure knitter said...

oh how i miss listening to you play the piano on sundays! the brother who plays thinks that we're in the middle of a funeral...no matter WHAT song it is. i miss your up-tempo songs!!

brittani c. said...

I couldn't have said it any better myself...those feelings are sooooo ME. I'm almost 30 and I still haven't grown up.

Irish Cream said...

I can't think of anything more difficult than playing the piano in front of a ton of accomplished pianists in a ward that values pianists as much as some of the auxiliary presidencies!

There is nothing more self-conscious than playing on front of 50-300 people, even if they are acquaintances, and most of them friends.

I'm sorry that "Carol" didn't know who you were- but I bet she did (you were just taken out of context; not sitting behind the piano in RS!)

By the way, I admire greatly how you seem to enjoy playing the piano, and never seem bothered when you do mess up (although I haven't heard any mistakes). I know that both my husband and I are grateful for your willingness to share your talent and hard work and training at the drop of a hat for just about anything you're needed for- even if you have to get a sitter.

Don't feel alone- I think we all feel that everybody is looking at/ judging/ talking about us and our mistakes or faux pas.

Story Family said...

Em, that was great! It's like my dad would say in junior high to me (over and over and over....)"Kellie, no one is really even thinking about you." Of course I was offended, but he meant it in the nicest (and truest) way. It's funny, because it's true.

JoAnne Leboeuf Coakley said...

Don't feel bad. I've had a similar experience not so long ago and I am way older than you.
I was conducting the music in RS and totally lost my place and my face was no doubt very red when I looked to see that no one had been watching me.
Now there's a lesson. Now I always act as if no one is watching me ever and I'm very seldom wrong.

Beth said...

I love this post - every Sunday I HATE when I see the primary teachers watching me lead the music because I have NO IDEA what I'm doing and am sure they all notice my poor timing, right? =) Thanks for making me laugh at myself!

Renae said...

I led the music in R.S. for awhile here and I don't think I ever did it prefectly. tee hee, jokes on them. I just moved my arm and smiled like I knew what I was doing and I think that was key. :) --Good post. I also find it hard to believe she didn't know you were playing the piano.

Renae said...

Emilee, how are lily of the valley's poinsonous? Just if you eat them? Now I'm concerned.

Mike and Kelly said...

I think you play lovely, and I will protect you in your calling with every ounce of power that I have. I think you are the BEST. R.S. PIANIST. EVER.

Stephanie said...

We have all had the same type of experience and sometimes we learn this lesson often more than once. Thanks for sharing, you make me laugh and cry usually at the same time.

Stephanie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz said...

Love it!

I guess I'm still 13!