Picture an arena filled with 18,000 people. Watch the overhead lights dim, hear the screams erupt, and see the stage sparkle. What comes next? An elegant performer and a magnificent set? A full band and an army of glittering backup dancers? A brilliant, untouchable star?
Out comes a single man with a sweaty brow in nothing other than a plain red t-shirt and cargo shorts. Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the most genuine performer of all time: Ed Sheeran.
Last week, my three suitemates and I Ubered down to Bridgestone Arena for a classic Nashville concert experience. However, Ed Sheeran’s concert proved to offer me much more than an entertaining Sunday evening.
Watching one of the world’s biggest pop stars dressed in an outfit exponentially simpler than any person in the stands, something hit me. We – being most of humanity – find it so necessary to put a show on for everyone. We smile when we are sad, we post shiny Instagram photos when life is dull, and we embellish experiences that weren’t that exciting.
Yet here is Ed Sheeran in a plain red t-shirt and cargo shorts, standing alone on stage in front of 18,000 people. He puts every other performer I have seen to shame. There is no elaborate costume, complementary band, or extravagant stage to hide behind. He is utterly alone. His concert is far from a show. It’s just him and his voice. It’s real and it’s authentic. It’s music and nothing more.
Watching his concert, I found myself wondering what it would be like if we all acted more like Ed Sheeran. If we put our genuine selves out there and stopped trying to be something we aren’t. If we attempted our dreams without the fear of failing. If we made ourselves vulnerable to the world around us. Maybe, just maybe, that’s the recipe for success.
College students everywhere are so concerned about what everyone else thinks. They worry about the careers that their parents want for them and question how their friends will perceive their every move. They hide behind their social media presence. They focus more on the show than the music.
On Sunday evening, Ed Sheeran did something so impressive that I’m still thinking about it 8 days later. He failed. In front of 18,000 people, he screwed up a song. And boy did he own it. Instead of looking for a way to adapt it without anyone noticing, he simply stopped and started over. HOW FREAKING AWESOME.
I know it’s harder said than done, but I challenge myself and all of us to be more like Ed Sheeran. To abandon the image of the “perfect college kid.” To try and to fail. To put ourselves out there and fall.
Tomorrow, I probably won’t be wearing a plain red t-shirt and cargo shorts. But that wouldn’t be me, would it?