So You're Afraid to Sing in Public... So Was I
For the first 25 years of my life, I held back. I didn’t play team sports, I didn’t perform in plays, I didn’t jump into the middle of dance circles, or sing in the A Capella group in college. I desperately wanted to do all of these things but my heart was so afraid of failing or not looking good. I just sat back, watched other people having fun and silently felt sad with regret that I was missing out. My grandma always tells me “Life is short. Enjoy every minute of it.” I wasn’t. I wasn’t living life to the full and time was slipping away. I was convinced that I would die without ever knowing what it’s like to let my hair down and freely be myself.
Around the time I turned 26, I was participating in a yoga teacher training program that focused heavily on overcoming fears. After months of talking to friends, journaling, and realizing that I wasn’t going to put up with this anymore, I finally stood up in front of the group and told my story. I told them how I’d been hiding in the side wings my whole life, secretly dreaming of being in the spotlight. I wanted to sing. Singing is my greatest passion and I’d NEVER sang in front of other people. The fear of failure and rejection was paralyzing. It took an entire hour of me crying, shaking, squeezing my eyes shut and holding my breath before my voice finally released a squeak and I started to sing in front of the group. At first it was a whisper and I didn’t know how to make my voice louder. My teacher said “Let the songbird out of the cage.” and patiently my friends watched as my voice grew in power and volume and I was singing at the top of my lungs as if I were performing in an opera. People had goosebumps and tears and I received a standing ovation. It was the most magnificent moment of my life. I felt liberated and powerful. I was in shock and couldn’t believe what had just happened, what I had just done. A fear that had held me back my entire life had just been faced head on and I won!
Since that day, I have been singing and jumping into dance circles. I still get nervous to sing, to play soccer, to market my business, and to speak in public, but now whenever I feel those butterflies, I just remember that day I stood up and faced my fear at yoga teacher training. If I can overcome that monster fear that had haunted and imprisoned me for 25 years, I can do anything.
If you have a fear that is holding you back, a fear that feels so great it can never be overcome, please believe me when I say that I know exactly how you feel and that you CAN overcome it. One day the cost of living under the tyranny of your fear will become so great you will be willing to do whatever it takes to be free. In that moment of your life, as you stare into the eyes of your fear, you may shake and cry and feel like your heart is dying in pain. This is how I survived and won: plant your feet into the ground with determination, keep breathing slowly and deeply, and just do start doing it. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
Overcoming my fear to sing in public left me feeling free and powerful — the feelings I’ve always desired. I was no longer alone, I was sharing myself with the world and I finally felt connected to other people. Now, I'm finally free to enjoy every moment of this short beautiful life. Still nervous as fuck sometimes but butterflies in the stomach give you wings (right?) and if I'm not in a cage anymore, then those wings can take me places ;) // Cha