by Lorraine Morgan Scott
I sang in public at an open mic last month. It wasn’t on a whim, I had planned to sing there, and had practiced diligently, albeit quietly, in my hotel room the whole week leading up to my Hollywood “debut.”
It had been years and years since I’d sang, and this was only my second open mic, ever. I was worried about forgetting the words to the song; I was tense and extremely nervous, too. “Just have fun,” my husband said, encouragingly. After waiting nearly three hours to perform, when I finally got up there – in front of a room of highly encouraging people – I was an emotional wreck.
The room was dimmed and the spotlight was on me. My opening note was flat, and so were many more after that. There wasn’t supposed to be a flat note in the whole song!
Throughout my performance I was beating myself up inside which probably didn’t help my singing. When I was done I was totally disappointed in myself – I know I can sing better than that, how did I suck so much?
I’d like to say I immediately shook it off, but not so. My internal critic had me going last night and first thing this morning. Eventually, my coaching instincts took over to pull me out of the quagmire. You remembered every word! Some notes came out well, and you finished in key. You had the guts to sing a Christina Aguilera song in a famous Hollywood lounge!
I thought about the performance. If it had been someone else, I would have been encouraging and supportive –why beat myself up? Why was my first thought I suck, I’ll never be good, I should just give up. Would I encourage a friend to do that? NO! I would tell my friend to find the good in what he or she had done, and to keep going, keep trying, especially if it was important to that person. I needed to be a friend to myself.
So was every note off? No, some had been sung in key. So did I suck? Well, yes, this time, but there had been some good things about the performance too. I did it (singing in public is a big fear of mine) and I remembered the words. With practice, well – with lots of practice, I’ll get better, I’ll calm my nerves, my technique will improve, and I’ll be able to spot correct.
So let me ask you . . .what are you beating yourself up about? What are you afraid to do because you’re not yet “perfect”? What are you doing right? Have you acknowledged that woo-hoo, you’re trying? How can you quit beating yourself before you “just quit”?
It is amazing to me, and hard to believe, how hard people (including myself) can be on themselves. That little voice in the head will tell us to quit, that we’re not good enough, and yes, that we suck. It is important, no critical, for our personal development to make it past those words of defeat and discouragement and adopt the cheerleader mentality.
Everyone clapped heartily last night after I’d finished – not because I was moving off the stage, but because most of them had been there, gone through that, and survived the learning curve to become “good.”
Lorraine Morgan Scott is author of “Loving Myself First: Overcoming Life’s Obstacles (Past, Present and Future)”, a certified coach, as well as a motivational speaker and singer. She specializes in helping women define their goals and reach their dreams. Contact her via email: Lorraine@PepTalkCap.com to comment or suggest a topic.