Everyone is a critic. That is a phrase that comes to my mind today. We are all swirling with judgements about ourselves that come out as judgements of others. It's easy to get caught up in trying to please others. In other words, to be a "people-pleaser." I learned a lot of valuable information throughout my Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees. I learned how to think critically about music, music history, vocal pedagogy. The loads of information that I packed in my brain is incredible. I learned how to function and sing on low sleep, how to prioritize my to-do-list, how to make friends and how to trust.
I was recently handed the courage to admit to you all that my relationship with my voice was dysfunctional, codependent and obsessive. I was convinced that my voice was my soul, and performing is solely what kept my soul alive. At every voice lesson, coaching, masterclass, and performance I took in every criticism. I "fixed" or worked to fix every single problem and absorbed every piece of advice. I was given a laundry list of how to be the "successful" opera singer--but the list was slightly different with every person I emulated. Nonetheless, I changed the way I dressed, breathed, spoke. I exercised every single day, practiced my singing for 3 or more hours, did all of my homework, and never partied like a typical college student. I did everything that my mentors told me would make me a "successful" singer. "Surely now," I thought, "I would get cast in a lead role, or with an opera company, or win a competition...." but I didn't. Now, this isn't to say that I didn't have a lot of amazing opportunities, because I did. I performed so much, and I received positive feedback, but it was never enough for my inner judge. I was so obsessed with being perfect, that I couldn't absorb the beauty of what I was doing well.
It's embarrassing to admit this to you...but I graduated with my Master of Music degree feeling like I failed. Because, you see, I had changed so much in the process of trying to please others, that I had lost contact with my authentic self. She was in there--begging to be heard...but I wouldn't listen.
It's important to mention that the problem wasn't the advice I was given, but my reaction to it. The problem was the problem. I believed that in order to get the part, I had to get the judges to like me. But, truthfully, how can you hire a singer with a broken heart towards singing? How can you hire a singer with a mask that covers up her true beauty?
So--I took a year "off". During this past year, I have been singing for me. My heart is healing. Today, I sing because I am a singer. I sing because I made a vow in 2nd grade to be a singer, and I will never break that vow. Friends and family expressed concern when I took a year to focus on yoga and voice teaching and working day jobs, but truthfully, I've never been happier. Now I sing to connect to the source of life. I sing to help others. I sing to express my truth.
Why do you sing?
I have found my voice, which is deeply connected to my soul.
I am excited to share it with you...whether it is in a black dress with closed-toed heels, or in overalls. I encourage you to do the same. Share your truth, even though it is scary.