Being "On" Vs. Being Present

    I’m sitting in a cold metal chair in the back of a fluorescent lighted room in my voice class. It’s 9 am and my only source of warmth is my Lululemon sport jacket. As one of my friends is working through her song, I begin to feel my stomach wrench as her performance reflects me in some way. 

    The song ends and my name is called. My heart is pounding. I can feel my insides continue to wring. I don’t want to visit that space inside my head, or heart. I’ve rehearsed. I know the song like the back of my hand, yet here I am scared to just be. My song starts and ends with the speed of a single breath. I look down at my teacher and notice this puzzled look on her face. Almost as if she had just watched the series finale of The Sopranos

    “Why did you pick that song?” she asks. I began to list the reasons–I’m obsessed with the show, it sits well in my voice, etc. etc. My subconscious hid the real reason I chose the song. “What were you singing about?” she further questioned. “Well, my ‘moment before’ someone was asking me, ‘why are you so closed off?’ and…” she cut me off… “Why are you so closed off?” I began to tip toe around my answer. I heard my subconscious screaming at me, but continued to silence it. As I started to discuss my relationship to the character singing the song (his damaged relationship with his father, his questions about being alive, his non-specificity of purpose, etc.) it started to come up like word vomitI’m scared of being average.” And along with the vomit came the emotions. I let myself feel. My heart slowed to a normal pace, and I felt my body tension release. From that place, I started the song again and this time I allowed my vulnerability to tell the story of the words. I remembered in that moment that this is why I perform–to be able to experience these emotions, to be present, and to share with others that they are not alone in how they feel. I’ve come to realize I don’t give value to my most authentic feelings for 99% of my day. And that is why I am writing this now. 

    As one of my good friends lovingly put it to me, I am constantly “On”. I never allow myself to simply sit and be still with myself. Whether it’s snapchatting my every move, or tweeting my every thought, or uploading my latest selfie; I am constantly “performing” for the virtual world. By doing so, I can ignore my feelings of stress or anger or loneliness and superficially connect with thousands of people for a brief moment. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but I am saying it’s not always the best thing. I am surrounded by so many supportive, positive, ambitious, and selfless people and I often forget that when I’m so enveloped in my internet bubble. 

    I love my friends and family so much and I often remain shut off from them; distant and cold, because in 2015 I don’t need to experience emotion, I can just put it into abbreviations and GIFs in my tweets and relinquish them into my keyboard. As the holiday season and the New Year approaches, I want to be more present and turn off the virtual version. I want to be vulnerable and honest with my loved ones in person rather than in text message. I want to be more focused in my work than in my persona. I want to like me more than being liked by others.

Even as I write this post, I feel my subconscious editing before my fingers hit the keys. This post may be to connect with you and elicit some sort of response or sympathy, but even more so, it is for me to express my determination to better myself and to hold myself accountable for it in written form. 

    I don’t plan to delete my twitter or to stop taking selfies, but rather begin to evaluate why it is that I am compelled to tweet without thinking or post six selfies a day. What am I avoiding within myself? How can I discover more about who I am and who I want to be by connecting more authentically to the people I love? I’ve recently come to find this quote from the very wise Jordan Bach that, “Self-Love is allowing yourself to feel the love that is already around you,” and I really resonate with those words. We are all on the same lonely path to finding love and we’re often told we will find it when we stop looking for it. However, I believe we may find it easier by being vulnerable and available, inviting in the love around us, leading us to find it within ourselves. Once that happens, we are capable of generating the love given to us to more and more people around us. It’s an endless cycle of compassion which will bring us all together. I just realized how meta and gigantic this post is getting, so I’m going to stop myself before I begin to talk about other universes and aliens.  

    On that note, be present, be compassionate, and be you. I promise there is no carbon copy. I love you and you should too.

Marc Jordan Cohen3 Comments