I have no doubt that the most fun times I have ever had are when I could just trust my instincts and my skills and let fly.
It is when I feel the need to modulate myself, to dial down the energy, to be appropriate and balanced that I feel constrained, trapped, frustrated and defeated.
The problem is that I always feel the need to modulate myself. I know that too much information makes other people uncomfortable, that too much thought makes them feel challenged, that too much energy makes them focus on the noise rather than on the message.
This is the essence of my lifemyth, that I am too hip for the room: if I don’t modulate, I keep people at a distance, but if I do modulate, I keep myself at a distance.
I do understand that my modulation is problematic because I will tend to modulate myself to lower levels than other people might be able to tolerate or even enjoy. I will play it safe, handing back because I don’t have any good, external feedback to help me understand how I am playing in the room. In my experience, even people who encourage me to let loose often feel challenged when I actually do.
One of the traditions of my people is outrageous, over-the-top performance, filled with material which challenges the conventional & comfortable through parody. By taking things to the extreme, we celebrate the intense and reveal the limits of the normative. We usually call this kind of performance “drag.”
I put together an act years ago where someone pushed play on a boom box, starting a Barbara Streisand anthem and I came out and started to lip-sync to it. As the song played on, I got discombobulated, finally leaving the stage and coming back with a huge sledge hammer. I lifted the hammer and smashed the boom box to smithereens, tiny bits flying all over.
“Whew!” I said to the audience of LGBT people. “For a moment there, I thought I was a drag queen!”
It played on the stereotypes around transgender expression, about how those tropes constrain us, either having to fall into them or stay far away from them to connect with others in the world.
The moments when I am not thinking about modulating myself to be seen as appropriate in the world are few and far between. I modulate my enthusiasm, my passion, my crying, my frivolity, my joy, my love. It’s hard to count all the ways I moderate myself because those areas are already and habitually moderated, without safe space to unpack and explore them.
To be immoderate, living in the world beyond my own internalized self-policing in moderation, feeling that there are some spaces where I don’t have to moderate myself, seems like a joyous thing.
But does that seem possible to me? No, not really.
Moderation in all things may seem like a fine motto, but exuberance and safety sometimes, well, it seems very vital and very human.