It was epic. It took every ounce of positive self talk and faith I had, but I did it.
Remember how in the beginning of this year I mentioned I wanted to live Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful? I wanted to take moments where I didn’t live small?
Well last night, I sang a solo (that means ALL BY MYSELF) at a women’s gathering in my neighborhood. There were probably 80 women there. Granted, if you are going to sing anywhere, it should be at a church at Christmas because people are usually very kind and forgiving even if your performance was not in tune, or you forgot the words or whatever. It’s a good group to start with!
Over the month I had to prepare, I swore a lot. I had dry heaves. I had nightmares. I am not sure what was so scary to me but I realized I had to face down my biggest critic – me.
See I have this thing about being seen, really seen. And with singing, it’s just you, your voice and the audience. There is no faking that connection or lack thereof. There is no hiding. It is raw and vulnerable.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to sing. I sing a lot…in the shower, in the chorus, to the radio in my car. Music is powerful to me and so expressive of many emotions both happy and sad. I sing a lot. Just not by myself…in front of people…
When I was in Jr. High, I had an amazing choir instructor – Mr. Hagerman. He loved music and he loved us. When I was ready to transition to high school, Mr. Hagerman also transitioned to teaching high school choir. I got 5 solid years with this amazing man. He taught me so many things about harmony, connection, timing and rhythm.
He was a big believer in me and tried everything to get me to showcase my talents – aka be musical somewhere other than in the shower or in my car. He gave me a solo part – Eliza in My Fair Lady – I came down with laryngitis for a week.
He talked me into playing the piano for the choir – Little Mermaid – I could not remember how to keep time. Seriously, my mind and consequently my hands turn into gummy bears – soft and good for nothing. How many times he started over while I sat at the piano paralyzed – I will never know.
While I loved that he gave me these, and other, chances to shine, I will say they were also embarrassing and formative for me. I had not only let myself down, I had done it, repeatedly, in front of 100 of my peers. He had thought I could do great things…but the truth of it, no matter how I tried, was that I couldn’t do what he asked or expected. I couldn’t be what they thought I was.
I would go on to “fail” many more times in music over the years. They were all horrific and supremely personal. I am sure I don’t need to go into detail for you to realize these experiences changed how effectively I felt I could express myself through music. I would often sing a cappella and love that – I just would not, could not, ever solo sing to music or someone’s else’s timing or expectation.
In practicing for this song, I got to listen to the other ladies participating. I got to hear their feedback which was beneficial. But the greatest teacher came, when hours after everyone had left rehearsals, one lady and I were still in conversation. We were talking randomly about physical healing (she’s in the nursing field) and she said, “Some people aren’t ready to let go of whatever is causing them pain. They aren’t ready to let go so they can heal.”
I know she didn’t say it directly to me, but she might as well have. I went home that night and thought a lot about what I was ready to let go of, what I was ready to give away.
I was ready to give away not being what other people wanted or needed.
I was ready to give away others expectations of what I should sound like or be like.
I was ready to be messy and imperfect and only just good enough.
And so I let go and sang.
I won’t win any awards. There might have been moments that could have been better. There might have been people who thought I could have done more. But it was a solid 6 out of 10… just good enough and I am super proud of myself for that.