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No Applause, Please

September 30, 2008

If there’s anything I hate when I’m trying to focus, it’s people talking to me.  I can’t write when people talk to me.  I can’t read when people talk either, although with reading I am able to tune people out (this is not always a good thing).  And I definitely, absolutely, positively, cannot kick through an [expletive deleted*] board when there are idiot parents, parents who belong to the kid next to me, staring at me and cheering in a patronizing way.

What is the deal with cheering and sports?  I don’t get it.  No one cheers in the middle of a piano recital, or a ballet performance.  No one cheers in the middle of a difficult choral piece.  It would be RUDE. It would break the performer’s CONCENTRATION.

Why is it not rude to cheer when someone (me) is trying to gather up all my energy and focus and put my [expletive deleted] foot through the [many expletives deleted] board?

No, cheering is not rude. It’s expected.  But what IS rude is when I turn around and ask everyone, in a voice as calm as I can make it, which is not very calm at all, to please BE QUIET so I can focus.**

Of course by then it didn’t help.  My focus was shot, my concentration was blown, and I continued to kick futilely while the audience of parents, who were only cheering so that i would FINISH and they could watch their own blood relative fail to break a board, instead of a fat lady trying to learn their child’s  sport.

And I felt worse about losing my temper and asking everyone to be quiet (although I was thinking SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!, so I was actually rather controlled) than i did about not breaking the board.

But I had to ask for quiet.  There was no way I could break it with that parent standing in the corner staring at me, cheering in that maddening way.

It’s not just the cheering itself though.  It’s cheering when I’m mid-failure that I hate.  Not only does it cause me to lose my focus, it draws attention to the fact that I really, really stink at what I’m doing.  It feels condescending to proud little me.  I hate it.  Applaud when I actually succeed; don’t pretend that I’m succeeding when I’m not.  Just be quiet, let me believe in the fiction that you’re not even there, and let me get on with the process of failing. I am not energized by applause when I’m failing; I don’t trust it, so I’m distracted and flustered by it.

No applause, please.  Until I really get it.  Then you can cheer like mad.

*No, I did not swear. I did not even think the swear words.  But when I’m really mad I say “expletive deleted.” It helps me vent.  Using large words always helps me vent.  When I finally did break the board, several minutes into the torture, on the second of three tries, instead of the third, I said “well that was anticlimactic.” And saying the word “anticlimactic” in its correct context immediately soothed me.  A little.

**And what is more rude is biting my family’s head off when they politely asked how testing was later on. Sorry family (especially Xime). I couldn’t talk about it at all without losing it and crying, though, and I just didn’t want to go there right then.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2008 2:43 am

    can I applaud now?? I loved reading that!

  2. Emily permalink*
    October 9, 2008 4:15 am

    Ha! Thank you. Since writing it I have calmed down a lot. I went to a board breaking seminar and nailed the sidekick pretty fast. It’s not nearly as hard as it seemed in testing. I just need to practice my technique more.

    And also, I think that I can stand to be applauded when I’m failing if I believe people mean it, that they truly care, and they aren’t just condescending. But wow, that day was one of the most humiliating moments of my adult life.

    It’s good for me. I think.

  3. October 10, 2008 9:45 pm

    It was similar feelings of insecurity I had, which prompted me to try to get myself “over it” and post about my art the other week. As an “achiever”, I think I developed a fear/avoidance of failure– as an adult I am trying to learn through it. Great women challenge themselves!
    I don’t know many people who can break boards!

  4. December 5, 2008 12:49 pm

    This post reminded me of the “self-esteem” generation(s). Is this how they feel when they’re given trophies just for participation? Or never given an F on a report card, just a Needs Improvement?

    I’m glad you kept trying though, I know it’s trite to say, but that is what counts.

  5. Emily permalink*
    January 8, 2009 5:22 am

    Thanks, smartmama and jendoop.

    I am in the middle of another board breaking ordeal. I don’t know if I’m glad I kept trying yet. Gah.

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