Through a very lucky connection, I was fortunate enough to attend a black tie dinner at the Metropolitan Opera Club a few months ago as a guest of one of the members. I was told that some influential people in the classical music world would be present, and of course as a young operatic singer, I was eager to make a good impression. I must admit I was intimidated by the thought of having to hold my own in a sea of sophisticated, worldly, educated, and actually “posh” people. Keeping in mind this idea of “posh,” and reminding myself that I must look the part of the budding ingénue, I enthusiastically pulled out my 80” white pearls from Tiffany’s and a black formal dress from my closet, quite proud of myself for already having something appropriate to wear to an event as classy as this one. It appeared that I fit right in with the other attendees upon arrival, and that I had chosen the perfect dress and accessories for the evening.
Does this outer layer make me posh though? No. Maybe a little, but honestly those pearls could have been plastic as far as anyone else knew. Once I started to converse with these sophisticated people, I realized that they are not intimidating or pretentious at all. They are intelligent, curious, and engaged people, who have a genuine interest in the art form of Opera and want to see it thrive. They are pro-active within the classical music community, helping to produce operas that are otherwise passed over. Meeting a young singer is a treat for them, because they see the future of opera in me (and my peers). I was asked my opinion on music, theater, and even vocal techniques, not because they were testing me, but because they were actually interested in what I had to say. These people have traveled all over the world, they each hold a definitive place in an elite community, and yet are still hungry to know more, and to do more. Take away the fine jewelry and fabulous attire, and even take away the prestigious location of the Metropolitan Opera Club, and these people are still posh.
This inner posh (poshness?) stems from a genuine thirst for knowledge. It has nothing to do with money, status, or the fact that your uncle through marriage is a distant relative of the royal family. I certainly do not want to alienate anyone reading this blog who is not an opera fan, and so I want to make sure that I mention that this thirst does not have to be music related to be considered posh. Whatever the area of interest is, whether it be science, dance, math, literature, or anything else, if there is an active quest to improve it, discuss it, listen to opinions & facts, or further educate oneself about the topic, that (to me) is inner posh. This type of person does not impose her (or his) opinions onto someone else, but respects the opposing opinion, ready to hear the other side, keeping an open mind with the intention of possibly learning more about the topic. A person with inner posh is kind, gracious, and patient, ready to embrace other cultures, expand knowledge, and experience life to its fullest.
So, poshies, every now and then, perhaps when you are drinking a lovely glass of Chianti in the middle of a Tuscan vineyard, check in with your inner posh. Just as you may need to practice walking in your new heels, your soul & mind need to practice being posh too.