Living without applause

I caught some of the proms the other night. There was a glaring absence however. The diminished orchestra was there. The animated conductor was there. But the audience was not.

The music rose and fell as normal but when it stopped, there was silence. At the end of the performance, after a time of nothing, they applauded eachother. It just didn’t feel right.

These days, sports teams carry on behind closed doors with no supporters to cheer them on. Musicians are reduced to online concerts, authors are doing virtual launches for their new books, ministers are preaching to a screen instead of a room of faces. All these things are unavoidable in the current climate. All require new levels of self-assurance and a fair amount of staying power.

It got me thinking, how many achievements and performances do we manage that never get any acknowledgement or recognition? How do we keep going without it?

I think it’s a 21st century requirement to be seen and congratulated on everything. With this digital age, there’s no excuse I suppose. The downside is when you’re putting yourself out there and still no-one is acknowledging you. I’ve been there many times friends.

So, what to do? I remember when I faced my fears and got on a bike for the first time in years. When I pushed it back into the garage I put my fist in the air and said ‘yes!’. I published my first book and my husband ran up the stairs with it to ‘get the author’s signature’. I’ve leant against our house wall many times after a struggle from the park and thought ‘I made it!’ The audience of one is the most common one isn’t it?

For most of us, being praised by ourselves or one other person is all we can hope for. For this reason, we have to keep our eyes peeled and every time we see someone achieving something that is small in the world’s eyes but huge in their own, we have to congratulate them.

Lonely victories are seldom repeated. So take those hesitant hands out of your pockets and get better at praising other people. If we can all applaud our health workers, then surely we can tell a friend they’re doing great.

So to all you sleep-deprived mothers struggling to get through the day and hiding your tears, to anyone searching for work or a new home, to any unseen child teaching themselves when no-one else has time for them, to anyone taking their first shaky steps after an operation or finishing their first cycle of treatment, to the lonely managing to do it all by themselves, for all the unnoticed, tiny yet massive achievements, I applaud you.

Keep it up. You are amazing!

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