I’ve always dreamed of being a singer. Truth is, over the years I’ve gone back and forth with myself about whether my voice is ‘good enough’ or ‘really good’ or ‘something worthy of sharing with others through singing.’
I remember in my early 20’s I was hanging out with some hip-hop artists here in Buffalo. I just happened to be at their home studio one day and they needed a female to vocalize a hook for them.
I said ‘I’ll do it!’ even though I’d never done anything like that before. I did it because I knew that somewhere within me, I desired to share my singing voice with the world, and also, that some part of me knew that my voice was worthy of sharing.
As I stood in that closet, mic in front of me, door closed, the producer told me through the headphones what to sing and how to sing it. As I began to sing, my voice went in and out of tune. What I wanted to express, how I wanted to sound, how I could HEAR the sound in my heart wasn’t translating as the air came out of my lungs and mouth into the microphone.
The room outside of the closet, a.k.a. vocal booth, was filled with young men and I could hear them giggling. I felt embarrassed, like I wanted to hide. I remember second guessing that knowing inside of me that said, ‘Your singing voice is worthy of sharing.’
For the next 6 years, even though they did use one of my vocal takes on the album, I hid my singing voice; I kept it to myself, my car and my shower. I told myself that I was stronger as a behind the scenes artist manager type, and that’s where I focused my energy.
I went to NYC in my mid 20’s and worked with a few performing artists to help develop their careers. That voice that knows that I HAVE IT started to speak up within me. I found myself thinking, ‘I can do this! I can be the one on stage, I KNOW what to do, I KNOW I’ve got ‘it’.’ However, the fear of not being good enough (to make the grade, you know..basically to get approval from others) had taken over and I didn’t yet have the courage to step into my knowing.
When I turned 30 I was in the midst of what I coined my ‘next level healing journey.’ I began working with my first life coach and regularly sang as I walked into her office for a session. She used to tell me, ‘Laura, I could listen to you sing alllllll day long! Your voice is like buttah!’ Hearing her words and feeling the love that she shared them with gave me courage to begin opening up. Eventually I chose to listen to the small voice within which kept telling me to go to Karaoke to get over my fear of singing in front of others.
Within 1 month I was bored with Karaoke and decided that I wanted to start a reggae band. I found two young guys on craigslist with a similar vision and together, over the next 6 months, we built a 10 piece band! I was the lead singer, co~wrote our songs, managed and booked the band all while being a single Mom who was supporting my family as a freelance business development consultant.
This experience pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone.. it was exhilarating, amazing, challenging and totally uncomfortable at times! I heard the voices of doubt, fear, self-judgment and judgment from others. I still worried that I wasn’t good enough as I continued to look outside of myself for approval. I walked away from after 18 months (you’ll have to check for my memoirs to know why! Stay tuned ;))
This week I got up on stage after not having performed with live musicians for over 3 years. It wasn’t so great. I could list a variety of excuses for why I don’t feel like my performance matched the gift which lives inside of me. The truth is, it felt far from my best. When all was said and done I felt embarrassed, I worried about what others thought, I wanted someone outside of myself to make me feel better about how I did. I wanted a do-over, a ‘let me prove to you that I can actually rock the stage’ opportunity. I felt defeated and that feeling stayed with me into the next day.
When the next guest hit the stage she unabashedly sang her heart out. She was incredible, in a free flow of her divine essence and potency and alive. in. the. moment.
I thought to myself, ‘Wow, Laura.. you are really holding back.’ I realized that I only allowed a small part of me to be exposed and shied away from being my fully expressed radiant self. I tried to ‘play it safe’ and stay ‘within the lines’ of the songs I covered, hesitant to listen to the voice within that wanted to break free. I’d thought, ‘What if I hit a wrong note or my freestyle doesn’t come out properly, make sense, sound good etc. etc.’
I’m clear that this is one big way that I’ve been playing small. I’ve been kowtowing to my fears!
Wednesday morning, as the sun shone brightly on a crisp autumn day, I reminded myself to be compassionate and present with all that was alive in my heart, mind, body and soul about my perception of my performance the night before. So many emotions, energies, thoughts and voices were present.. I felt a desire to hide out, seek comfort outside of myself, the need for others’ approval.
As I’ve moved through these last few days, I’m realizing how much I’ve grown over the last 6 years
- I’ve gotten so much stronger in my ability to self-manage
- I’m moving through the discomfort while continuing to live my life at the same time
- The ‘gremlins’ that chattered away actually created space for me to see clearly how I’m holding back in my life
- I’ve touched in on more of what I desire to feel and experience when performing as well as a few things that I can do to better prepare myself
- Clarity on my ideal performance.. it looks and feels like me showing up fully expressed, whatever that means in the moment, courageously, unapologetically, allowing the inspiration of the moment to move through me free and clear, having the courage to really go there with my voice, my body, my spirit.. to be so fully in the moment, so fully held by the experience, connected within and connected to the other players sharing the stage with me, the sound person, the audience, that the freedom I experience from this place carries everyone who bears witness to a higher place 🙂 and even if it doesn’t, that I feel empowered and uplifted by my courage to be the fully expressed me 🙂
How do you take care of yourself when you feel that you haven’t done your best?
What is your go-to remedy when your heart is tender, you feel embarrassed and want to hide out?
Share your remedies, tools and experiences in the comments below!
With sooo much love and a tender, expanding heart…