When I was a girl I wasn’t encouraged to sing.
I wasn’t discouraged exactly, but at home I would put my headphones on and sing loudly. My parents would always comment; sometimes to say I had a lovely voice, at others to remark I’d hit a really bum note. My parents were both my Challengers and my Champions. I would write songs on my keyboard in the privacy of my room and sing them quietly, or even simply sing them in my head, not out loud.
At school it was a running joke that I was chosen to be in musicals because I could act, not sing. I was always part of the choir at school as I could hold a tune, but I was always so self-conscious about singing, I was never chosen for solos. I was comfortable being one voice in a crowd, but not being the voice.
I wasn’t optimistic about my singing prowess.
A little voice in the back of my head was always crowing; “You can’t sing in front of an audience”, “You can’t sing in front of other people, even your friends”, “You. can’t. sing”. Period. My conscious self told me I could, my other self-conscious sh*t-for-brains assured me my conscious self didn’t know what it was talking about. Wo. Meta.
In my mid-20s I suffered from panic attacks. The thought of speaking, performing, in even a team meeting filled me with dread, rapid heartbeat, brainfarts. It may or may not have had anything to do with the pot I was smoking at the time.
In the early 2000s, Japan rejuvenated my confidence for getting up in public and performing for a time. Karaoke became my best friend. I would belt out Madonna, The Carpenters and Eminem in the company of friends until my voice went hoarse. It may or may not have had anything to do with all the Chuhai and Asahi I was drinking at the time. I vote the former.
I don’t get stage fright for anything else other than singing. To sing in front of an audience is my definition of terrifying, and yet paradoxically, I crave it. I fear the judgement, but at the same time I’ve never considered myself a coward.
So I’m learning how to sing. More precisely, I’m learning strategies to gank my nervous, naysaying conscious self that tells me I’m going to embarrass myself if I get up and sing. Learning how to belt out a tune, properly and loudly, without shackles (and without a fifth of vodka) is Top 5 on my Bucket List. I am trekking out to Coburg North every week to take lessons from an amazing voice coach recommended to me.
I had my first lesson last night, which was both confronting and comforting. One of the interim steps to my goal is to front up to a goddamn open mic sometime in the future. To do it, I need to reclaim my confidence. My optimism. It may be a long road, but I’m ready for it.
Is there anything on your Bucket List that you’re sh*t scared of?
*Special thanks to Bastille for the title inspiration. You may regret it.