When I’m nervous, I talk fast. Restless energy is lodged inside the pit of my stomach, energy that manifests in high-pitched tones and quick vocal delivery and hand gestures that are more animated than usual.
I step inside the restroom to review the beginning notes. The first few lines.
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you my dear. It’s the house telling you to close your eyes. It’s killing me to see you this way.
I stare at my reflection; at a girl who, sometimes, doubts her potential. I’m sure I know the song. I’m sure I’m capable of singing in front of an audience. I’ve rehearsed plenty; I’ve made him play in various keys, just to ensure myself that I could — if need be — adjust accordingly.
One might say, I’ve been rehearsing this song for my entire life.
Around 14,15 years-old, I began to stray from my childhood aspirations. To be on stage. To sing. To dance. To act. It was easier to point fingers at a drama teacher who made me uncomfortable; it was easier to blame cliquey high school kids who judged harshly. Gradually, however, I realized that I was the one who was changing.
Performing requires a specific personality, a skin that’s hard to penetrate. A callous. It’s like saying: Hey, here I am, fully exposing myself under a bright light for you to see everything. Here I am before you, emotionally naked.
I didn’t have that skin then, and to be honest, I don’t think I completely embody that now. I am pushing myself, though. I am seeking something when I sing in front of others. Maybe it’s to connect. Maybe it’s to surpass my fear, even if just for a moment. Maybe it’s to transcend my own (perceived) limitations. Maybe it’s all of it.
I leave the restroom, deep breaths in tow. Inhale. Exhale. Relax my nervous system. It’s okay.
When it’s time to sing under the light, my mouth opens and I hear the sound of my voice. And you know what? It’s not bad.
Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore
Recently, I sung Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks” at another open mic night. This time I felt my body loosen. Move. I felt free to close my eyes. To use my hands. If I keep doing this, my confidence will build. If I keep doing this, I will start to believe that I could, but more importantly, I will start to believe in myself.