In the shadows.
Do you know what is going on behind the scenes? Do you know what it feels like to have everything and still have nothing? The feeling of being the life of the party but still being alone at the end of the night when everything has been said and done. Living in the shadows of fear and rejection and wrapped up in the warmth of insecurities. This place is horrible.
I never want my daughter to feel how I felt; I try my best to not allow her to let her heart retract to the shadows. I want her in the light and shining bright in whatever she feels makes her feel good and I salute all the parents out there who truly support their kids in reaching their dreams and also keeping an open mind that over time their dreams will change and in the end they may not even became any of the many things they ventured into as kids, but knowing that they will never wake up one day and say my parents never supported me, that is the goal for me. That is all they need, you being there in their corner rooting for them.
When I was in matric and we had to do and oral assignment for English, and that has always been one of my biggest fears, stage fright. Speaking in front of people and to this day all my friends and family can’t understand why? That day I asked my teacher if I could do my assignment during the break, and she asked me why? I looked at her and before I could stop myself I said the words, I was shy. She looked at me and started laughing, Priscilla you are many things but I can’t believe that shy is one of them. She was right, I guess shy wasn’t the right word, I think it was scared, afraid; afraid of the humiliation afraid of not being good enough the fear of forgetting my words. I guess that why I started writing it was one place where I didn’t have fear or limitations. Fear.
Fear drove me into the shadows. You know the worst thing about living in fear is that everything else becomes heightened. You become so much… Too much really. You try to hide behind the fear and exaggerate everything else about yourself instead of facing the fear. But the thing is I never had anyone in my corner. I had friends yes who was always encouraging me and that I appreciated so much to this day and is still the fuel behind all my accomplishments today, but I needed my parents in my corner, my boyfriend, my partner I needed my ‘closest’ to be there. I need the people who I love in my corner. Even today I stand alone in this dream… Trying to make it a reality on my own and the people I love are not there (really there) present… Do I want them there really; yes and no… Yes I would love to have them there in my corner rooting for me regardless of what they think but because this is for me, no because they don’t understand they don’t try to understand and I would rather be alone here than with people who say they believe in me but deep down don’t.
I was in everything as a child, I sang in the choir, I did gymnastics, I danced, I did drama, believe me if there was something going on I was in it. I loved performing, but never thought or believed I was good enough that is why I always hung around in groups never attempted anything on my own because I would choke and chicken out if I ever thought of doing anything on my own. Only after I would choke up or get the stage freight something inside me would come alive and bring out the best in me. It was like I needed to experience the feeling of total failure before I could truly enjoy the ecstasy of wining. Weird yes? But true… You have to understand that I always believed that there were people better then me, I would listen to other people sing or dance or whatever and I would become fearful or their talent and immediately start moving back into the shadows of my fear. It was strange, I would have the confidence of an ox to get to that point but when I was up there looking the challenge in the eye everything inside leaves and I’m standing there fending for myself.
When I was in standard 4 (grade 6) I entered our schools modeling competition. My friends and everyone around me told me enter, you’re so pretty and you will win and I was so hyped up and I entered. My mom was excited too she got me a beautiful dress for the evening wear and I got new clothes for the casual wear part. I went out on stage and I gave it my all. I modeled like I never modeled before and I didn’t win. I was devastated, because I really wanted to win. My mom said oh well these things happen. But she never said next time you will get it… But I decided the next year(grade 7) to enter again. Crazy right. Well… But this time I remember that I did it differently. I remembered that we practiced everyday after school with one of our local beauty queen’s and she gave us advice on how to walk and our attitude on stage it was great. The other girls were so supportive and we really just became a family. It was fun. The year before it wasn’t fun it was competition. So the day of the show, I had no-one to do my hair I had to wear old clothes for the casual section and I had borrowed a skirt and top from a friend for the evening wear section. I wore my favorite hipster and British flag top with my spice girl shoes for the casual and a pretty lilac skirt and leotard for the evening wear. I felt comfortable and I as much I wanted to win I wanted every other girl who was modeling with me to win. We all deserved it at the end of the day. Now that day my parents were not in the audience to support me they decided not to come because maybe they believed that because I had lost the last time I would loose again. I mean I had a 1/20 chance of winning, but I didn’t really cared. I went on stage that night and just modeled because I loved it. I loved the music I was walking on and even sang along in my head to the songs. I smiled a real smile, a happy smile because I kept remembering the silly jokes we had made during our practice sessions and it was so funny really. I was just me. Doing me. So… I won. It was so great. Everyone I knew in the audience that day screamed for me and I won. I couldn’t believe it. So as they were crowing me the boy who lived across the street from me ran to our house and told my parents that I had won. They came and we took a few pictures it was the best day of my life, until many years later I looked at the photos. My mother was happy she smiled and looked so proud, but my dad… I don’t know it was like he was ashamed of me. Like “I never told her to do this but she did it anyway and I even though she won this was not what I wanted” it was like was he going to punish me for winning.
Every year after that (high school) they never came to any event I took part in. I started playing around with the idea of singing but was always silenced with the words, stop making a noise, when I told them I wanted to enter idols I got no response. Even though everyone around me thought I had talent even though everyone around me encouraged me to do it, I couldn’t because they didn’t believe in me. I needed them to believe in me. It was as if they were anticipating my failure and I just never tried. I was destined for failure because all they saw in me was failure. I had a baby at eighteen and he said to me that he knew it. He knew I would end up like everyone else around me. But I worked hard to raise my child and I made sure that I never needed to depend on them for anything in my life. For long I was failing me because I wanted to make them approve of me. I wanted to make them proud of me, but I lost myself. I forgot who I was. I was always in the shadows of what they thought of me and it kept me prisoner for many years… Then I started to make the changes, changes for me and yes I struggled to find my feet because I never did anything on my own, I didn’t know what it was like to be on my own. Freedom was a very bad friend in the beginning because I had never been alone. I was always living in the shadows of someone else’s wants and needs for me. Always allowing other people to dictate to me what was best for me and what I should be doing with my life and for the most part it was a position where I was exploited for their selfish gain.
I still fail today but I’m no longer retreating to the shadows when it happens. I allow myself to be broken and I pick myself up and adjust the lights and try again. And I say to myself what I told myself all those years back in the 7th grade… You can do this! You were made to do this! You love doing this! Just do you!
It was the first time in so many years that I was on stage again and for that brief moment it all came back to me. I was standing alone and I couldn’t do it. Even though I knew I had the talent I just couldn’t believe in myself enough, I didn’t believe in my talent enough. I was wounded and bruised. Even though many years had passed I still don’t have anyone who I love behind me. I’m too afraid to share this with them because even though they know I’m doing this pursuing this, they act like it doesn’t exist. Like ‘this is all you girl if you don’t make it, your thing’. It’s hard having no-one to sing my songs too, read my books too or even just brainstorm with. I do have friends who love doing it with me but I need them the people who I love right there in the action with me.
It was so lonely on that stage so empty so exposed and naked. But I guess its time to be little Priscilla from the 7th grade again…
Besides… I don’t think attempting to sing a song I had written the day before was the best of ideas… I should have done a cover… Well next time I will do a cover and one of my own.