Where nearly no one knows my name

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.

One Comment Add yours

  1. I’m not pressing the ‘like’ button as if will feel to me as if I am liking your low feeling.
    What I am ‘liking’ is your honesty. As sad as it feels, as low as you felt you shared this, very personal and I understood, I have been her, I am her, at times I thought perhaps you writing about me. scary.
    What I like about this is we are all humans and its easy to see others on the internet and watch their videos and read their blogs and just see someone there and wrongly assume this person is happy all the time, that this person has it all, a good personality, a great upbeat look on life, they just go and do and achieve.
    But in reality behind the screen we are all human with our internal voices to battle with, our fears, our own challenges. Honest words such as this, are very powerful as they break down the wrong assumptions and show us all that we are not alone.
    I don’t feel alone with all my fears. Yes, last week you did wonderful, so brave and you know what, last night it may not feel it, but you great too. Why? Because you still went. You were feeling not great but you still went, you still made small talk, you still sat there. It may not feel it but you did go and then you did a further positive thing by writing about your experience, you faced by writing about it, you will be able to look back at this and explore and challenge those feelings. You will be able to compare them to the times when you get up and go somewhere new and play and not even think about it.
    You will play your own songs, you will, because people do want to hear them, I want to hear them, I may be one person across the world, but I really do want to hear them. Covers are nice and can be fun, but I like to hear the music of the person singing, their stories, what they have to say, so see a glimpse of their personality.
    You are right that moment will pass and today will be a new day.
    Just know you have people here rooting for you. You are an inspiration and you watch South Park and made funny gnome reference so if you can make me laugh then I reckon you are A OK.
    Sending hugs, there are quite a few, so next time you go to perform somewhere new or anywhere, take one use it and know you are not alone, you are brave and have a beautiful voice and I am cheering you on, big loud WOOOOs YEAHHHSSS x

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