I have been meaning to write this blog post for weeks, but we have been in the middle of a big move, end of school year, dance recitals, swim lessons, a visit from my mom (and that was just last week!) Needless to say, I am happy to be sitting down in one spot for long enough to type this post!
Some of you know that I recently wrapped a 10 week seminar course on Commitment. It was pretty eye-opening, but I think most importantly, it allowed me to once again, reconnect with parts of myself that I have kept hidden from the world. It always seems to boil down to the fear/doubt/question, ‘who am I to… (__fill-in-the-blank__)? Thankfully I have started to talk back to that voice, (yes, I talk to myself), and answer with, ‘who am I not to?’
I grew up in a music house. My mother being a trained opera singer, music major and music teacher, was constantly singing and playing the piano. We almost always found ourselves gathered around the piano having a sing-along, (if you came over to our house in the 80’s – 90’s, you know this to be true.) Music was our love-language, and there was lots of it to go around.
But something happened as I got older. I became inhibited, and afraid of what you might think about my singing. I knew I could carry a tune and even harmonize at times, but at some point letting you hear my voice just felt way too vulnerable. I developed a ‘stage-fright’, that co-signed a story that I shouldn’t sing for people. And I definitely shouldn’t tell people that I sing, because then they might want to hear me do it, and then they might think I suck.
So what happened? What happened is, I recently grew a (figurative) pair, said ‘eff it’ to the booing crowd in my head, and signed up to audition for ‘The Voice’. I told no one, (not even my husband), for weeks. I think I needed that incubation period to let my impulsive choice set in. With every person I told, I anxiously awaited their judgmental laughter, but it never came. Instead, I was met with encouragement and support. And with each person I told, I felt a little braver and took more ownership of my choice, (and my voice).
The day before the audition, I ‘decided’ not to go about 50 times, each time coming up with a different excuse as to why I couldn’t or shouldn’t go. I waited until the very last minute to print my pass. I told my close group of girlfriends at the eleventh hour. It hit me. Once I told everyone in my life, I would be held accountable to show up for myself. With my pass in my hand, and nothing left standing in my way, I set my alarm for 4am.
The day-of was exhilarating. I pulled in to the LA Convention Center at 6am. The line of musical hopefuls wrapped around the building. At each turn, there were guitars playing, groups of people humming and singing, and lots of nervous chatter. It. Was. Awesome. All of these people had woken up before the sun, and showed up to their lives, that morning. I was already inspired.
Throughout the morning, we were moved in to several different waiting areas, each one filled with more and more electric energy. By this time, our neighbors were our friends. And once we were seated in the largest waiting room with hundreds of chairs, it was a full-blown party. The room would spontaneously and consistently break out in collective song. It was beautiful. It was the morning-sing-alongs from my childhood, a thousand fold. We sang ‘Journey’ classics, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Adele’, and everything in between. It was a collective of fully self-expressed Artists, and it was one of the most moving experiences I have had the honor of being a part of.
To be honest, the audition part of the process felt secondary to everything else. 10 of us waited outside of a room. When we entered the large, empty space, a small Asian man with glasses sat behind a large foldout table. In front of him was a semi-circle of 10 chairs, and a masking tape ‘x’ on the floor in the center of the seats. Enter: every single nerve in my body. I was filled with the feeling of “I don’t wanna’. I had practically forgotten that this is why we were here. I became very present to the fact that I was completely untrained and barely prepared for this. But it was too late, and as he pulled our names lottery-style, I awaited my fate.
After several vocally choreographed and incredible performances, it was my turn. Little old me, who’s recent vocal training consisted of a YouTube warm up tutorial. (Seriously). I got up. I sang (imperfectly), and I sat back down. It was done. I had completed my mission. I knew this wasn’t my best performance, and I didn’t care. The victory was in showing up, staring my fear down in the face and making it my Bitch. No one in my group passed through to the next round, not even the guy who had made it through the two previous years.
Walking back through the convention center, past all the hopeful artists I could not wipe the smile off my face. I felt a sense of pride in myself–in all of us, that I can’t properly put in to words. I think being surrounded by thousands of people honoring their artistic gifts, and choosing to live out loud for that day, filled me with the most beautiful sense of adventure. I wish this feeling for everyone, because it is an unparalleled feeling.
So here is what I am proposing. I am proposing that just for today, you honor that secret gift that no one knows you have been hiding from the world, (we all have them). I propose you affirm to yourself “I am an artist”, and allow yourself to play. I am proposing that you make your fear(s) your Bitch, just for today. Sometimes we feel like we need permission to live from this space, so here it is, I am giving you permission to Play Big, today. And I hope that you will report back to let me know how it goes.