Fearing the fear and doing it anyway

I had this plan, this dream really, that when I turned 40 I’d throw a great party somewhere with a stage, and I’d surprise everyone by singing at my own do, with a live band.

Thing is, I’m terrified of singing in public.  No, that’s not the right way to describe it.  It’s not terror, it’s more that much as I want to do it, much as I know I have a decent voice and what not, my body refuses to allow sound to escape when there are people watching.  My throat constricts, my heart – for all it feels like – stops in my chest and the best I can manage is a strangled squeak.  Caught singing in the shower in a backpackers years ago a travelling companion even marvelled at my voice.  ‘Amazing’ was, I think, the word she used.  A little bragging required here to boost my flagging confidence.

I kept my little dream a secret for some time, frightened to utter it, frightened that if I did I might somehow commit to actually doing it.  Plan A was to find myself a musician or two and make a wee group.  At the time the dream was festering, we lived out in the countryside and had a small baby plus toddler, and I couldn’t work out how I could find good people to gather about me to make it come true. Given the husband plays the old guitar a little, I finally suggested it to him.  Plan B.  I’ll sing, I told him, and you play the guitar.  Hmmm.

I may not have mentioned yet, though undoubtedly I’ll do so again, that my husband rather likes the sound of his own voice, and somewhat adores it when other people listen.  And if he can find an excuse to show off in some way – he’ll take it.  Bless him.  Curse him.

“I know,” he says, when I reveal my little plan, “I’ll go on stage first and start singing with the guitar, and you come on afterwards.”

“Er, no,” say I, “I’m the one doing the singing – you’re just playing the guitar,”

“No, no,” he says, “I’ll be like the warm up act and then you come on and wow everyone.”

“Hmm, no,” say I again, “That’s you stealing the limelight actually….”

Exit Plan B.

Then a few months later I found that the proverbial cat had been thrown among the proverbial pigeons of our marriage and frankly dealing with that, amidst selling our home of eight plus years, moving house and re-locating two small children into new day care arrangements plus two needy cats, was more than I could get my spinning head around.

I have, however, found a singing teacher a stone’s throw from our new rented home.  Hooray!  With a little folk club hidden neatly away in the neighbourhood a new plan is brewing.  I’ve had a few lessons, done not-enough practice in between.  This teacher is making me readdress the entire way I sing!  While it’s intellectually stimulating and really quite fascinating (who knew that the larynx flips forward and backwards and that you can consciously close off the nasal cavity using your soft palette?) it’s hard bloody work.  Meanwhile I’ve taken a part in a play, which is frankly more necessary.  Singing solo is all very well but it’s, well, solo, solitary, a tad lonely even.  New reality, new location, old friends far away = need for group activity to keep insanity at bay.

So here I am, just over 40 and the singing dream still waiting, waiting.  Maybe through this play I might meet some musicians.  Maybe maybe.  I know… I really do – this will always be a ‘waiting maybe’ if I don’t take the bull by the horns.  I’ll sort it, I really really will.  Once this play is over…

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