Childhood trauma and my inability to sing
I love music.
I start most days by sticking in earphones and heading out for a bus. I then spend all day in work with my headphones on. At home in the evenings I always have music blaring and as I get into bed every night I stick on Jeff Buckley's 'Grace'.
Over the last two years I've listened to over 200,000 hours of music (according to Spotify, and it’s mostly Gojira).
The one thing I never do, however, is sing along.
Even if I'm home alone and blasting classic 80s sing-a-long cracker 'Time of my life' from Dirty Dancing, I just can't bring myself to belt out a verse or two.
This is very much a case of crippling self consciousness coupled with childhood trauma.
When I was in fourth class (age 10 or so) I had this teacher. Mrs Walsh was her name and I have more vivid memories of her than any other teacher I had at that time.
She was one of the older teachers in the school, quite short and frail, with a slight hunch and dirty blonde hair. She stank of coffee and had a small brass block that she would bang off her desk when she wanted silence.
I can't help but wonder if that is just the child's eye image I have of her... Would a photograph match the horrible caricature of a human I have in my head?
Anyway, Mrs Walsh was also the school's music teacher. She would take groups of students from different classes and form a choir that sung religious songs (because Catholic schools in Ireland). Part of her process was to go around the class, student by student, make each one of us stand up and sing in front of everyone. An X-Factor sort of thing.
It was horrible. I still remember waiting in abject terror as my turn approached. I knew I couldn't sing. I knew it would be embarrassing. I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
When my turn came I did stand up, face glowing hot pink, and spit out a couple of lines. I felt shit afterwards and I hated that fucking bitch for making me do it.
Two decades have passed and not much has changed. Even when I'm blackout drunk I struggle to find the courage to sing (though it has happened a couple of times that I barely remember).
I'm actually only realizing as I write this how severe the problem is, since I can actually look back over my entire life and recall the times I've sang. The grand total is around three. Once in that class and twice while pissed drunk. I even struggled to join a chorus of Happy Birthday for my five year old niece the other day. Jesus...
What does it all mean?
We hold on to some weird stuff from our childhoods.
I used the word 'trauma' pretty lightly in the title there (clickbait am I right?) and obviously children that suffer actual trauma carry it to adulthood, how could they not?
Right now I'm more interested in those little things that for some reason cling to our psyches despite their general insignificance.
How many of our behaviors have been severely impact by some tiny childhood event that we didn't even notice?
Maybe you're cautious with money because you made a bad decision with your pocket money once when you were eight years old.
What if you're attracted to a certain type of man / woman because you watched 'Saved by the Bell' as a twelve year old (Oh Kelly, you deserved so much better than Zac)?
What if you hate authority because some teacher embarrassed you as a seven year old (not looking at anyone in particular... Mrs Feeney!)?
The point is this: it's surprisingly easy to find yourself behaving in some specific way because of your surroundings or various influential events in your life.
This fact is exploited by marketing and advertising companies all the time. Gargantuan brands like Coke and McDonalds spend millions just getting their logo in front of you so that it has an impact on the decision making part of your brain. It's also well documented that tech leaders in the silicon valley do not let their children use social media, because they know that the technology they built will have negative long term affects on them.
We are environmental sponges and right now our environment is a jungle of marketing (of both people and products) and advertising. Do 'influencers' inform your decisions on a daily basis? How about brand familiarity? So much of it is subconscious that we struggle to even tell if we're being manipulated.
Ok, so that took a bit of an anti-capitalist turn there are the end. The thing is you don't need to burn it all down and go full communist, you just need to be aware. Make your own decisions. Actively avoid having your strings pulled by some corporate entity. Also, the less advertising you ingest the better, so reduce your social media usage or get yourself an ad blocker.