I had the opportunity to attend a cello performance recently. It was incredible! The cellist played everything from Mozart to Daft Punk. I have always adored the cello and the sounds it makes. It is quite possibly the most underrated string instrument. That is not the point of this story though.
During the performance, I noticed a group of young girls. They were probably 7 or 8 years old at the most. One girl in particular was really getting into the music. She started clapping her hands wildly to the beat as the cellist played a particularly festive song. She had her eyes closed very tight as she absorbed the music.
And then suddenly, her eyes fluttered open. Her body slowed down as she gradually resigned her clapping and brought her hands to her lap. Her eyes darted to the left and saw the other girls, her peers, sitting stoically with blank looks in their eyes. She stayed in that position throughout the rest of the performance. I would catch glimpses of her shooting a quick look to see if any of the other girls had started to enjoy the music. But they didn’t, and it stopped her from enjoying it too.
It made me so sad for a couple of reasons:
One, I wanted her to enjoy the music the way she wanted to. The joy exuding from her while she was clapping was contagious.
Two, I’ve felt it before and I’m sure I’ll feel it again (soon). That horrible feeling of self-consciousness. Your cheeks light up with fire as you realize what you’re doing is not the “cool” thing to do. Embarrassment.
Three, it made me so incredibly sad that this might be the end of her love, her pursuit of something that made her so happy. When I was in 4th grade, orchestra became an option for us. I was so excited to play a new instrument. As they showed us the instruments that were available, I already had my heart set on the cello. During a discussion with my friends about what instrument we wanted to play, I excitedly replied that I was choosing the cello. To which my friend replied, “Girls don’t play cello.” Bam. I felt so embarrassed that I would even dream to play the cello as a girl. What in the world was I thinking?! I picked the violin. Absolutely hated it. Quit after a month. Regret, regret, blah, blah, blah.
All of this is based on my observation from the outside of the situation. Maybe her arms were tired from clapping. Who knows. I wish I had gone up to her after the performance to tell her to keep on clapping.
This whole situation made me ask, when did it start? This self-consciousness. This embarrassment. And will it ever go away again? Can I go back to being the little girl in a crop top, high-waist short shorts, and heart-shaped sunglasses that didn’t give AF?