Everyone loves the underdog. From David and Goliath to Rocky, there’s something eminently satisfying about seeing the little guy win.
Are we all underdogs? Most of the time, I certainly put myself in that position. I have terrible self-esteem (like most artists), so I automatically assume everyone I compete against is better than me. I struggle with my perfectionism constantly, and even when I know that I have achieved quite a bit, I still see myself at the bottom rung of the ladder.
But I always thought this mindset was a strength. I was raised to be modest, to never get a “swelled head,” as my dad put it. And I think that modesty has gotten me far, because it has made me work hard to get ahead, never stopping to rest on my laurels.
This week, I attended a seminar by Dallas Travers with my fellow Divas. Although Dallas works primarily with stage and film actors, much of her message carries over to the singing world as well, and I found myself taking furious notes (that’ll be another post entirely). One thing she said resonated with me more than anything else that night: “Your odds are entirely determined by your expectations.”
Your odds are entirely determined by your expectations.
Underdog, long shot, sleeper: what pessimistic synonyms to describe the person who is least likely to win! No wonder I always feel like I’m on the bottom rung if I have placed myself in this role. There I am, being the submissive dog, rolling onto my back as the winner dominates me. The target is placed so far away I can barely see it, much less pull my arm back on the bow to let the arrow fly. Am I asleep, that the contest is almost passing me by before I awake?
by my expectations.
This Saturday, I am singing in the semifinals for the Oratorio Society of New York’s solo competition. If I make it through to the next round, I will sing in the finals at Carnegie Hall* on April 2. Instead of looking at my competition and thinking of them as so much better than me, I don’t want to think of them at all. This competition is not about them; it’s about me, and how I expect myself to perform.
So, how should I picture myself now? Am I still the little guy? The dark horse? No, I think I’m the littlest bird who sings the prettiest songs. I’m the artist I have always striven to become, and it only gets better from here. I love singing, and I love bringing music to people. I love my voice, and I think you will too.
But I still won’t mind if you all cross your fingers for me at 1:50 pm on Saturday, March 26.
*don’t even ask how to get there, I’m practicing already.
Write anything – any genre, fiction or non, any length – around my favourite metaphor: The littlest bird sings the prettiest songs.