Apparently, I used to be able to sing.
I was recognised at school as the one with a wide vocal range and was asked to join the school’s choir. Most of the members of my family are good and confident, casual singers therefore, it probably wasn’t a surprise for my parents that I also had that ability. While at the choir, I took part in a couple of competitions and we even won some awards. However, this didn’t come easy to me. Whenever during our rehearsals I was asked to sing a solo, I felt extremely shy, self-conscious and nervous and most of the times, because of all these negative feelings, I would end up singing out of tune and laugh nervously.
This reoccurring laugh was making my coach think that I wasn’t serious about signing and there came a point during my ‘signing career’ when I was no longer asked to do solos at rehearsals. During the school times, I never actually sang a solo in front of the audience. And that’s despite the fact that somewhere deep inside I always dreamt about doing so.
This fear that I would end up laughing uncontrollably or sound very awkward prevented me from even trying to sign solos at the karaoke competitions that used to be extremely popular in my home town in Poland. I didn’t mind signing in a group (only after specific amount of alcohol hit my blood stream) but whenever I would be asked to stand up to sing I would avoid it like a fire.
Just over a year ago, my friend organised a karaoke party at one of our local Chinese restaurant in the UK. Chinese karaokes are different than Polish. Polish ones usually happen in a pub and you stand right in the middle of the premises and have a large and not very understanding (to say the least) audience. If they don’t like it, they will definitely show it since my nation has a great tendency of expressing especially negative emotions in a very straightforward way. 🙂 In contrary, if you want to organise Chinese-style karaoke, you hire a small, private room and the only audience that listens to you are your friends.
I didn’t drink that night but since most of the people that I was with were hesitant to sing, I somehow decided to take the microphone in my hand…
I sang one of my all-time favourite songs ‘Don’t speak’ by No Doubt (yeah, I know! Funny choice of a title for someone who encourages people to speak! ).
I closed my eyes and started signing..
There was something absolutely amazing in hearing my little, shy voice in this tiny room after so many years! I started very quietly but soon realised that, for my ears, most of the notes sounded fine. I increased the volume slightly…
I actually sat throughout the whole song in the corner of the room as I couldn’t stop my knees from shaking and had big goose bumps on my skin. I was so surprised to see that the longer I went for, the more confidently I sang and the more smiles I saw on my friends’ faces.
I suddenly found myself smiling too! I was starting to have fun and the moment I realised it, I felt pure happiness! I even got little ovation when I finished which was amazing and made me blush like my nation’s favourite veggie – fresh beetroot 😉
Someone chose the next song and asked for a partner to sign it with. It was Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and, to my complete surprise, I found myself running towards our little stage. When the first notes hit, I started dancing uncontrollably (yeah, I can look a bit mad when I do that!) and singing my heart out. I absolutely loved it!! It is fair to say that this was one of the most liberating experiences in my life!
I smile when I write this as it’s one of those moments in my life that I will never forget. Those unforgettable moments are usually the ones when you decide that your fear will no longer stop you from doing something!
I know that majority of people don’t like signing in public. Yet, we sign our throats out in the car or in the shower! How come we can do that?
Because there is no one to judge us therefore we know we can’t be hurt!
We watch the singing competitions such xFactor or the Voice (come on, admit it!) because these shows are about pure self-expression and making your dreams come true. Don’t we all want that in our careers and private lives?
So why not many people go and get it?
I know why I didn’t.
I avoided singing in front of people because I was afraid to be judged. I was scared that I will not hit all the notes (read – not be perfect) and because of this, I would sound silly and embarrass myself.
The same fear stopped me from public speaking as I described in my initial blog post.
Most of us like to do things in which we are experienced or have a knowledge off. The things that we are familiar with. This increases the chance of making less mistakes and be as close to perfection as possible.
In any public speaking situation there is always an element of uncertainty – be it a question asked from the audience that we weren’t prepared for answering, the possibility that you will forget what to say, unexpected wardrobe malfunction or failure of presenting equipment.
What if we accepted that uncertainty is part of our life because it helps us learn new things about ourselves?
What would happen if we let our guards go and allow ourselves to fully express who we are and accept that perfection is not the ultimate goal?
I dare to say that we would most likely have a ball of our life!
Self-expression has many forms- laughing laud, dancing without feeling awkward, expressing your opinion (however original it might be) or perhaps openly showing your true emotions to another human being.
I believe that the real growth is about discovering our true selves and expressing it to the world. And the only way to do so is by challenging our fears and dancing with them rather than allowing them to limit us. They will probably never disappear as our brain is 2 million years old and is a master in constantly searching for danger to help us survive. But we can learn how to manage them!
Imagine what would happen if you did learn how to fight your brain’s primitive instincts and push your thoughts towards more positive, liberating thoughts?
I am absolutely certain that you would have a ball everyday of your life! 🙂