Embrace The Cringe
When I was young, I used to feel embarrassed and uneasy heading onto a stage. I loved the acting, the music, whatever activity I was doing up there, but I felt hundreds of eyes staring up at me, judging my movements. Some people call it stage fright, I call it the reality of performance. I was worried I would slip up, that I would cause some colossal stoppage that would leave nothing to stare at but my mistake.
I never really did slip up though, and even when I did, I kept strumming my guitar, singing my verse, tapping my shoes. I started to realize the mistake would be buried in a flurry of success, and the mere fact that I was trying my best to express myself artistically, meant a win for most people, including myself. I would end up performing songs at any assembly in high school, and I even used them as an educational tool, exchanging a 3 page essay for a 3 minute song. I still remember a lot of history class when I hum my tunes to myself, “It all started a while ago when Louis the 16th inherited the throne”. I ended up embracing the butterflies and the red cheeks and flustering that came with it. It became more important to express myself than to just give up in fear of failure.
Flash forward 6 years, and I am at the North Bay Film Festival this passing weekend. There’s hundreds of audience members, staring up at a 30 foot screen, waiting in anticipation for “The Sisters Brother’s” to start. I made the three hour trip east of Elliot Lake to see this film, but before it starts there is a short film. A film I starred in called “Shark”, directed by Curtis Carriere about a loan shark down on his luck and fed up with his job. When the intro started, I didn’t sink into my seat, I didn’t shut my eyes in fear of a negative reaction from the audience, I sat tall, and proudly in my seat, laughing at my face, blown up to be larger than a billboard. Laughing at the comedy, the work that went into it, and laughing at the mere fact that I was seeing myself from an outsiders perspective.
I had done many student films in college, and with each one I got more and more of a kick out of seeing myself. I was proud of being me, of creating a character that people could laugh with. I stopped judging myself from my own perspective, and realized that my accomplishment was putting the work in to try.
After many years of creation, of collaboration, and of participation, I have found myself free of the stage fright that used to plague me, free of the embarrassment I used to feel when I had 9600 frames of my face flashing on a huge screen, and free of the cringe I used to wallow in for just being myself artistically.
So for the younger generation out there, trash canning their garageband songs, or burying their original youtube videos in complete and utter humiliation, take a moment, hover off the delete key. Think about the innocence of creation, and the success and stepping stones that those goofy videos gave you. To any artist out there, embarrassed of their work, take a moment to realize the potential of trying your best, and embrace the cringe.
Digital Creator Elliot Lake Program Lead