This past weekend, I looked after four kids under the age of 10. Two were my cousins, two were friends, all four are kids that I adore.
The ten year-old had just bought the Frozen soundtrack, and almost right away, they got to work on putting together a Frozen concert.
My seven year-old cousin (the only boy, who was on a mission to write and illustrate a story anyway) and I were banished from the living room while they landed on the set list, rehearsed, and made costumes. No peeking allowed until they said we could enter the “theatre”.
We settled in, and after the “photography is strictly prohibited” speech, the show began.
You know that feeling when someone’s about to perform, you’re afraid it might be bad, and you’re a little embarrassed for them? But then they start, and they’re just so confident, you’re not embarrassed anymore? Yeah, kids are awesome at that.
These girls sang their hearts out, attempting to harmonize along with Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell. They acted out each role with the seriousness of a Shakespearean actor. And the dancing, well, I haven’t seen moves like that in a long time!
They didn’t care if they didn’t reach the high notes, they still went for them. They didn’t care that it was a living room performance, not a Broadway stage – the acting was just as sincere, the dancing was just as graceful.
And I didn’t feel embarrassed for them. I was overwhelmed with pride and a little envious. I want to be that confident!
I remember rehearsing and performing countless dances and scenes when I was their age. And somewhere along the way it got silly. I became too embarrassed to perform like that.
Why sing if you can’t do it perfectly? Why put yourself out there if you might look silly? Why commit to the role you’re playing when it’s just a small audience?
At some point, our inhibitions show up. They tell us we’re not really good at it, that we look silly and that small audiences aren’t worth the effort.
I think these inhibitions, these voices, are powerful obstacles in living meaningful stories. They stop us from dreaming big dreams, and stop us from choosing butterflies.
What if we did things, even if it wasn’t perfect? What if we risked looking silly? What if we gave even the smallest audience our best performance? What would happen?
I think one of the reasons kids ‘go for it’ might be that they have friends who think it’s not only a great idea but they want to join in. Too often I let my fear of man get in the way of trying new things or even mentioning to friends that I want to try them. And whats worse is that I know I can be the friend that doesn’t encourage others to step out. But I’m working on changing both of those things. Thanks for the reminder Linds.
I think you’re totally right. All it takes is one friend to shoot a kid’s idea down, and they’re all of a sudden aware that something is silly and they never try again. And that is even more prevalent with adults – a simple “I’m not sure that would work” could be enough to put a full-stop on a dream. Our words are powerful!
And I’m grateful for a friend who, for example, says “let’s do it!” to the idea of going to NYC for 18 hours to experience a once-in-a-lifetime performance! 😉
There’s a brilliant manifesto by Hugh Macleod called “How To Be Creative” (http://changethis.com/manifesto/show/6.HowToBeCreative) where one of the first pieces of advice he gives is when you’re thinking of trying/doing something creative, don’t tell anyone. They will only tell you not to.
Thanks for sharing this Dan, really interesting. It really makes you think about how we can encourage others to do creative things – or rather how to not discourage it!
I totally agree. It’s amazing to watch kids, how unaffected they are in so many ways and how all of that goes away as we get older. Kindness and compassion are innate – hatred and embarassment need to be taught.
So true…and very sad!