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Last week I wrote about facing fear by first naming it, solidifying your fear in order to start taming it.
It was good timing because this week I faced one of my own fears, and the experience reminded me how easy it is to build up the thing you fear into something much bigger than it actually is.
My fear (for this week) is fear of performing – specifically, singing – in public. I love to sing, but I shy away from singing for others (other than my kids). I have sung in groups (in a choir and in clubs in high school and in a sorority (yes, I was a sorority girl). However, I never had to audition for these opportunities, and I always sang while ensconced, safely, in the middle of the choir. There were always talented singers who eclipsed everyone else in these groups, and I had no problem with being eclipsed. I just loved to be part of the group. Reading music, hearing the melodies, and harmonizing with others made me happy. Singing some of the great (and even some of the not so great) works roused my spirit. Then I graduated from college and freebie singing opportunities dried up.
As it turns out, my church has a wonderful, amazing choir. Our choir director selects music from all different genres to enhance the mass, and the choir in the cathedral space sounds like a host of angels. The local university has a strong music program, and many of the choir members are or were music majors or professional singers. We are blessed. And whenever I hear them sing, I long to join the choir.
Easy enough, right? All you have to do to join the choir is say you’re interested, go through a ‘soft’ audition process and badda bing, badda bang, you’re in.
That minor threshold has kept me from joining the choir for – gulp – over ten years. (Yes, I AM that chicken). It hasn’t kept me from whining to my husband about wanting to join. It hasn’t kept me from befriending people in the choir and quizzing them about being in the choir. It hasn’t kept me from attending their concerts, singing along (sotto voce) from the pews. Not sure why – maybe too much Simon Cowell had me imagining (a) a horrific audition, followed by (b) enthusiastic insults being hurled at me before a crowd of embarrassed friends and family . I’ve got to stop watching reality TV. And, having that fear, it was easy to make excuses about being busy, having kids and school activities and work that kept me from auditioning.
But I finally did it. Maybe writing so much on this blog about building courage and following one’s heart helped. In any case, I finally reached out. I checked the box. I raised my hand to say I was interested. I e-mailed our choir director. I showed up for the softest audition known to man.
The director was as easy and gentle as a human could be. He made the process fun. I actually felt like I belonged at the end. I am SOOOOO happy to be joining this amazing group.
Which brings me to my point(s)
- Sometimes what we fear is a monster we’ve built up in our heads. When we finally decide to face the monster, we realize that it’s just an image. It’s when we decide to face the monster that we realize we can handle it.
- Focus on the payoff! Oh it is SOOOOO sweet to be on the other side. And seeing the binders of music and the prospective selection of pieces, looking forward to singing with the Richmond Symphony, Wow! If I had spent as much time and energy focusing on the payoff as I had in building up my fear/excuse for not trying out . . . well, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me 10 years to get here 🙂 But, better late than never.
So, my plea to you: listen to your heart. Is there something that tugs at your heart – and scares you to pieces? Are you making excuses not to follow your heart because of that fear?
Take the leap! Face the fear! Reap the payoff!
You won’t regret it.