For much of my life, I have felt like an anomaly. These past few years of moving around, I thought I had found peace with this feeling.
Tonight, I went to my second ever open mic in Lowell at the Back Page. All day, I had felt in a bit of a funk, not myself.
Usually, playing music lifts my spirits, but tonight there was no performance high.
I was missing familiar faces from small communities. I was thinking about Gustavus and the Homeshore cafe crowd. I was feeling exposed and a bit out of place in a place where I was a stranger.
I went in early to sign up, and the second slot had been taken. I am not one to stay up late, which generally means I have to put up with a bit of teasing when I decide to head home at 10pm (come on, 10pm is late. It’s a school night!).
Last week, I felt the rush of performing in a space for the first time. People seemed to like my music. At least, if they didn’t, they pretended really well.
Tonight, I felt really out of place as soon as I walked in the door. I was there in body but less in spirit. Everyone seemed to know everyone else. People would walk in the door and be greeted with cheers and hugs.
There were no hugs (not even an oh so tiny violin playing just for me. Could I be more pathetic?).
I sat alone at a table and made small talk with a couple early arrivers.
When I am feeling low, my inner critic lifts its little head up. It has been waiting for just this moment.
“Feeling sorry for yourself again, are you?” it said from the depths. “Well, what do you expect? Of course no one knows who you are. You go home after work each night and put on sweatpants. You never go out.”
“I like being home! I like my sweatpants and quiet time.”
“Nothing wrong with that, but don’t expect people to become fans of your music if you don’t get out and play it.”
“No one wanted to hear my music tonight. They want crowd pleasers. I should have played crowd pleasers.”
And so it went. More and more negativity spiraling around in my head until I picked up my bag and walked out the door and toward home.
No performance high on this night, just a yucky, low confidence kind of dull nothingness.
I walked home engaged in a conversation between me and me.
What I was doing trying to be a musician? Maybe, no one likes my music and I should just play cover songs.
Then, what is the point of playing music? I have little interest in playing cover songs from someone else’s stories.
How is it that I somehow managed to focus on any negative aspect of the night rather than something positive? There was much that was positive, but the dark stuff takes over so insidiously and completely.
I know the moment will pass. I will wake up tomorrow and hopefully feel lighter.
Tonight, I am sitting with the dark side.