I was perfect!

The summer when I was seven, I took an official assessment exam at my local music school for the first time. It consisted of several different tasks, and one of them was to read a given short music score and sing it out loud.

When I went to the exam room, I was welcomed by one external teacher. He gave me a sheet music and told me to read it first for sometime. I followed the instruction and read the short piece of music in front of me. It was indeed a very short piece, and having read many music notes over the past year, I faced no issue reading through the music. Soon, I finished reading and signaled the teacher that I was ready to sing.

Being innocent, fearless and energetic, I sang the piece in my full voice. When I finished, the teacher said that I sang really well. He said that I made no mistake and I was even able to articulate where the climax of the music was.

“It was perfect!”

The teacher said and beamed at me as he let me out of the exam room.

As I ran down the staircase to meet my mother in the basement, the teacher’s voice kept echoing in my ears.

“It was perfect!”

As soon as I got to the basement, I burst open the door and found my mother among a few other students and their guardians.

“Mommy!” I shouted with excitement. “I was perfect!”

My mother was too surprised to say anything. She hushed me and ushered me out of the school building. As soon as we were outside, I told her again.

“So, the teacher said that my singing was perfect!”

“That’s great!” For some reason, my mother looked more embarrassed than pleased to hear my news.

Back in the car, my mother finally opened her mouth.

“Because you came in and declared that you were perfect in front of everybody, people were surprised.”

“Why? Is that a bad thing?” I asked.

“Oh, no, it’s not,” said my mother quickly. “But you see, sometimes if you boast in front of strangers that you are perfect, it might shock them.”

So, don’t do that again – though she didn’t say it aloud, I heard it from the way she spoke.

“How strange,” I thought to myself as I settled into the car. “It’s true that I sang perfectly, and what’s wrong with telling others what really happened?”

It was one of those strange habits of adults – to be overly conscious of others’ thoughts – that simply felt like nonsense to me that day.