- knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists
- feeling, experiencing, or noticing something (such as a sound, sensation, or emotion)
- knowing and understanding a lot about what is happening in the world or around you
- having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge
Aware: Merriam-Webster. Definitions retrieved March 10, 2014, from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aware?show=0&t=1394477374
Do you remember the moment you noticed the opposite sex in a whole new way? I do. I remember the very moment. (Or perhaps the moment you realized you were attracted to the same sex. . .)
My childhood best friend – I’ll call her Sunny – and I were at McDonald’s. As we carried our trays full of McNuggets, fries, and extra packets of sweet ‘n sour dipping sauce to the table where her mom was sitting, a gaggle of teenage boys opened the doors and entered the building. I swear they were moving in slow motion. And I’m pretty sure this played over heaven’s loud speaker:
Followed by this, played over the McDonald’s sound system:
A serious case of the giggles came over us, as well as some involuntary blushing, and we started making gestures resembling the Lenny & Squiggy palm bite.
“Oh brother,” Sunny’s mom teased. “You’d think you’d never seen a boy before.”
The thing was, we never had seen a boy before that day. We weren’t even aware that boys existed. I mean, we were aware they existed. But we weren’t aware they existed.
That’s how awareness seems to work. One moment – complete obliviousness. The next moment – an awakening to feelings you’ve never had, and reactions you never saw coming.
The few things I remember leading up to my first on-stage freak-out are now clues that my performance awareness was awakened that day. “Awakened” seems too delicate a word, really. It conjures images of a mommy stroking her little one’s head, singsonging, “Wakey, wakey eggs and bakey.” This was more like a splash of Alaskan glacier-fed lake water to the face after a deep and warm slumber.
These were some of the new-to-me thoughts that rolled around in my decade-old head as I waited my turn to sing at my first vocal recital:
- Why am I so early in the program?
- These other singers are so much older than I am.
- Will I sound like a baby?
- She’s really pretty. I’ll bet she’s a good singer.
- I wish I was that pretty.
- Is my outfit okay for this?
- Is my song babyish?
- Is my song boring?
- What if I forget the words?
- Wait, what’s my first word again?
Still, who would have thought that I’d have such a strong, physical reaction to these thoughts once I was on stage? Then again, who would have thought I’d ever react like a female version of Lenny & Squiggy to the sight of a boy either? (Now I reserve that kind of juvenile reaction for Big D.)
Performance was never quite the same for me after that day. As they say, it was impossible to get the genie back in the bottle. But it didn’t slow me down. I was in love with music, and I wanted to be involved in every aspect and every opportunity I could find. I never really addressed my panic attack. I pushed thoughts of it aside, categorized it as an unsolved mystery, and learned to manage my nerves . . . okay, sometimes better than others.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville
TO BE CONTINUED . . . again.
*This is part of my “Fear Itself” Series. To catch up on past posts, click here.