The Power of Cringe

Back in December I was the featured author at an open-mic. It was held at a really great bar and a lot of my friends came, so it was a pretty relaxed event. I read some of my poetry and a short story and overall I thought it went really well.

Until I watched the video.

One of my friends was kind enough to record the entire 45 minute performance, which I watched a few days later when I’d finally worked all the nervous adrenaline out of my system and thought I could watch it from a fairly objective viewpoint. And then – Oh! The Cringe!

Why did I sit like that? Did I seriously trip on my words that many times?? Why didn’t anyone tell me my hair looked like that? Wow, I don’t think I possibly could have rambled on in between poems for any longer.

I mean, at one point I read the same verse of my poem twice before realizing my mistake!

All I remember from that night is people laughing and applauding at all the right places and seeing all my friends (and most of the strangers too) smiling and having a good time, but when I watched the video I just kept thinking, “How could anyone enjoy this? What a terrible performance.”

I know I’m hard on myself, and I know that I am probably my own worst critic. But I also know that I want to get better. I want to improve my live performances each and every time until they really are, not flawless, but damn near as close as I, an imperfect human being, can make them. So I’m going to accept my self-criticisms AND I’m going to acknowledge that I will continue to improve. I can say, Well, that could have been better and then I will work to make it so. I will be both frustrated and firm with myself, as well as graceful and kind.

That performance had a lot of faults. But it also had enough of a solid base that I can make it better. My next performance will not be perfect, and neither will the one after that. But that’s okay because my goal is just to get better each time. I don’t have to be perfect. But I can sit up straighter, rehearse more, and put a little more hairspray in my part so my hair doesn’t flop over in that weird way again.