2.18.2011

Hello, Merriam-Webster

Close your eyes, open a dictionary, and point to a word. Does your word mean anything special to you?

performance 1. the execution of an action; 2. something accomplished: deed, feat; 3. the fulfillment of a claim or promise; 4. the action of representing a character in a play; 5. a public presentation or exhibition; 6. the ability to perform; efficiency; 7. the manner of reacting to stimuli: behavior

The first thing that popped into my head when I saw this word was "work performance." As in "performance appraisal." As in, let's sit down and have my manager tell me all the reasons why I do a great job but am not being promoted. This year it was because I had communication issues, specifically that I displayed negative nonverbal cues. I'm not altogether sure what the problem is. It's not like I flipped people off in staff meetings. Some days, I would like to wear a shirt that says, "I think I'm doing pretty well for being mentally unstable."

How do you think that would go over at work? It wouldn't pass the dress code, for starters.

Next on my mind was "performance" as in theater or music. I've taken the stage twice in my life, fifth and sixth grades, I believe. I played bit parts in two holiday plays at my Methodist church. One was A Christmas Carol. The other was Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. The one takeaway from those productions was that I am not meant to be a thespian. I make myself so incredibly nervous in preparation for the big show, I nearly throw up. The thought of all those eyes watching me...I'm feeling queasy just thinking about it now. There was one other benefit from my stage days: I can quote nearly every line when we watch Charlie Brown every December.
"You want a reason? I'll give you five good reasons: 1, 2, 3, 4...5" (she says, folding each finger of her hand down to form a fist, which she shoves in Linus's face)


Overall, "performance" is a fitting word for me to delve into, because, my whole life, I never felt as though I performed to the best of my abilities. I struggle a lot with believing in myself. There are things I'd like to do, but I'm afraid if I don't excel at them, I will feel as though I have not "performed" well. My need to strive for perfection duels with my reality that I will never get there. Not even close. Am I an actress? At first thought, NO. Then again, I've only tried twice, and that was when I was an awkward tween in a church play setting, surrounded by all the popular kids (of which I was not one).

I could play this game with many areas of my life, my many interests.

Am I an athlete? NO. But I'm working on it.
Am I a knitter? Well, I dabble.
Am I a musician? Not really. Although I spend half the year playing around with the community band.
Am I a writer? I'm writing this blog. The books inside me screaming to get out don't get any quieter. Yet my fingers can't seem to find the keys to string sentence after sentence together.
Am I a mother? Well, yes. But am I a good one? That's the question...
Am I a copyeditor? (This is me shooting you nasty, nonverbal looks.)

In most areas of my life, I don't have someone rating my performance. (With the exception of work. And we've seen how that goes.) Then again, maybe I do have someone rating my performance.

Me. And I'm a bitch of a critic.

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