I’ve sung all my life. For a long time, I assumed everyone did. We all sang in my family. We sang hiking songs on the trail. We sang Christmas carols from door to door. My mom burst into song while we were shopping. (Oh, the humiliation.) My brother and I would sing rounds in the sandbox and try to throw each other off by singing our parts louder and faster until we collapsed laughing.
I have a mental image of myself standing in front of our church at 4 or 5, wearing a white choir robe with a giant red collar, my eyes huge and my face pale. Singing in public. Ugh! That was my first taste of stage fright. I loved the singing, hated doing it in public.
I had the same experience of stage fright in ballet, and gave it up after completely devoting myself to it for many years. I loved the classes, the dancing, the costumes, but absolutely hated the performances. Our recitals were held in a large city community theater which sat thousands. My teacher must have been really well known to have so many people coming to her recitals, but I wished we were in a tiny room with just our immediate families. I was not born to do anything in public.
But one day, I got sick of being so scared. I was in a small Bible study and the leader asked if we had anything to say or to share. My heart pounded so loudly I was sure everyone could hear it. I was terrified to make a sound. I was sitting in the living room of perfectly safe people, surrounded by just a few people I knew. Yet I couldn’t open my mouth.
This would happen every week. The leaders of my small group persisted. They would not let up. The expectation of “performance” completely threw me. They would ask if someone in the group would start a song. I could always think of about five different songs to choose from, I knew how to sing them, but I couldn’t get a sound to come out of my mouth. I started to think this was ridiculous. How could I be so scared of such a simple thing?
By then I had started to notice lots of people couldn’t even sing, but they still did it! Why couldn’t I sing even a few words until everyone joined in? What was I so afraid of? I remembered giving up ballet even though I loved it so much, just because of my stage fright. I decided I would get over my fears no matter what it took.
And I did.
I didn’t have anyone to teach me how, so it took me a very long time to learn the tricks I know today. I thought I’d start a series of articles and share them with you. If I help even one person avoid years and years of being so scared of doing something they love, it will be worth it!
Next week: Someone else sings better. Why should I? Why me?