It is the month of May and on the 23rd of this month the wildest, wackiest family will hit our TV screens in the shape of the Eurovision Song Contest. This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the contest that brought us Abba, Bucks Fizz and the bearded lady Conchita Wurst. It has had me musing about ‘family’ and the many characters from the Eurovision Song Contest which can be seen as reflections of the characters that make up our own families. As Amos Oz has said “I find the family the most mysterious and fascinating institution in the world” and this feels particularly relevant to the family of Eurovision which has spanned six decades and given us over 1400 songs.
When I relate Eurovision to my own family I am reminded of the differences between the people that have made up my family landscape and the various performers that take to the stage each year in the competition. In my own family I have struggled to find my own sense of identity and my own sense of belonging. I am reminded, as I watch the Eurovision Song Contest that my struggle to accept myself, reflects a wider struggle that human beings often experience as they strive to feel accepted and acceptable to their families and to themselves. This is played out in the many countries, costumes and songs that make the Eurovision Song Contest what it is and the human strive to be seen as acceptable to others. These situations are played out both on the concert stage and on the stage which is our daily lives.
Growing up within my family, I experienced a feeling of being different, surrounded by people that I thought were more creative, colourful and confident than me. I often felt like the ugly duckling, longing to be the beautiful swan that I felt must be somewhere inside me. When I married I still felt this sense of not belonging, as I was now surrounded by an even larger number of clever, creative people. It has taken me a long time and a period of reflection through counselling, for me to realize my own uniqueness and the contribution that I make to my own life and that of my family. I am reminded that these are common themes that are played out in the Eurovision Song Contest, when countries get together to showcase their own unique style. It becomes an opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness and the creativity of each country and a reflection of all of us as valid, acceptable human beings.
It can be a challenge to accept our differences and it can become easy to compare ourselves to other family members and find ourselves lacking. When I accept that I am okay just as I am and that I am just as worthy as other family members, I feel a peaceful exuberance flow through me. And as I embrace my differences and the contribution I have made to my own family I can love myself and love my family and this opens my heart to the possibility that we are all okay, exactly as we are. And as Conchita sings “rise like a phoenix” I would concede that the Eurovision Song Contest has embodied this sentiment since its conception in 1956.