MANILA, Philippines -- I admire the thousands of people who auditioned for "American Idol 6" and got rejected for their courage, confidence and commitment to their dream. But I also wonder how some people ever got there in the first place.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against them. It just strikes me as strange how people who obviously lack the talent for singing acquire their overblown self-esteem. It's not that they're not talented or that they're losers, but it's clear singing is not just for them. How could have they been so deaf to their lack of singing talent?
A common scenario: Rejected applicant walks out of the audition room in disbelief. He curses the judges and complains that they have been unfair. He condemns Simon Cowell for dismissing the "true" American Idol.
Of course, there's a whole entourage of family and friends standing outside, waiting to greet him. And it annoys me when everyone rushes to console the terrible singer and says thing like, "It's their loss!" or "Those judges have bad taste," or "No way! You're the best singer in the world!"
No wonder those contestants are blind to their limitations. Their supporters have kept them in the dark all these years!
Take Minneapolis contestant 33052. After the judges gave her their thumbs down, she kept demanding to know why. The judges cited the poor quality of her singing.
"But why?" she protested. "I've been taking voice lessons for 10 years. How come no one has ever told me that before?"
"That's because I wasn't your teacher," Cowell told her.
"But why? I have a degree in Vocal Performance..."
The judges, including the guest judge Jewel, sniggered.
"Is there anything else that I can do?" she finally asked.
"Leave," said Simon.
Apparently, it was the first time contestant No. 33052 heard that her singing was not good. And that revelation had to happen on international television!
There's nothing wrong with prodding and encouraging people, but something's definitely wrong when the encouragement is an outright lie.
We all have our own talents, but we can't have them all. We can't even choose our inclinations or areas of specialization. These are gifts. Those talents we don't have, we can develop. But let's capitalize on what is given to us.
Contestant No. 33052 is the master of her fate, the captain of her soul. She's responsible for humiliating herself. But what about her supporters, friends and family, didn't they tell her that singing was just not her forte? What about her voice coach and vocal performance teachers? I'm not putting the blame entirely on them, but they are partly responsible. Just think about the lies they have been telling her all these years.
To people like these, having real and meaningful relationships means accepting the other person totally, including his capabilities, abilities and limitations. Pointing out a friend's defect or shortcoming is not part of it. If you really accept him, you just live with it. So if a friend has a food particle stuck between his teeth, you just let him walk around the room and continuously talk and smile at everyone. And when he comes back and asks why the girls were giggling, you shrug your shoulders and pretend that you see nothing wrong. Or you say, "Maybe they think you're cute."
What a friend! You let an opportunity to end his foolishness pass. Who will tell him the truth, that he has been making a fool of himself, but the people who truly care?
Usually it's not easy to point out someone's mistakes or shortcomings. Instead of viewing constructive criticism as a helpful thing, some people take it as a betrayal. But that saves them from further and deeper hurts. They may not even believe you, but at least you tried and at least they know.
"May I tell you something?" someone once asked me and proceeded to tell me something I should improve upon. Although I was initially hurt, I appreciated it when she explained that she mentioned it not because she saw me as "defective," but because she knew I could become better. I like people who tell me such things to my face instead of gossiping behind my back.
Of course, it can be risky. When I finally decided (after so much reflection and hesitation) to tell a friend about a certain area she ought to improve on, I was worried that I was putting years of friendship on the line. However, I thought that her personal growth was more important than our friendship. Our conversation was a dramatic one and we ended up crying. We did not talk to each other for a week! But eventually we got over it and our relationship became stronger because we were honest to each other.
Now we can say anything to each other and laugh about anything. When she tells me that I'm like this or like that, I trust her because I know she is doing it out of authentic concern, and I know she still loves me for what I am and who I can be.
Telling someone he stinks does sound harsh. Sorry, but as much as we want to tell people in the most pleasant way, sometimes we can't do it too well. But hey, if author Bo Sanchez didn't tell his pal about his body odor, the man wouldn't have discovered the deodorant and heard the girl, who had been avoiding him, say yes.
A clear danger here is having people think that they are measured by their qualities, abilities or possessions. I wanted to tell one guy who also got rejected in the "American Idol" audition and felt that he had been stripped of his self-esteem, "Dude, your singing does not define who you are! Your singing may suck, but you don't."
Believing in someone doesn't mean that you should tell him that he's a great dancer when he's got two left feet. By all means, be supportive. Just be careful with your words because no one wants and deserves to be lied to. We have eyes that see and hearts that care. We have the power to bring people out from the shadows and into the light. And we have an invaluable weapon, which is truth. Truth hurts, but it sets us free.
Frances Paola G. Doplon, 25, is taking up graduate studies in English Language and Literature at the Ateneo de Manila University.
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