That’s me and my older brother during a party at my grandmother’s house some ____ years ago.
Remember how parents and relatives would mount impromptu talent shows during family gatherings? The kids would be asked to sing, dance, declaim and show whatever talent we had for the whole clan to see.
I never really knew if I sang or danced well. All I knew was that I just needed to sing with all my might and to dance with every bit of energy in my body. The oldies would clap for me and I would feel so happy.
I think more than just being proud of what we could do, our parents felt it was one way of boosting our self-confidence.
It must have worked because when I entered grade school, I actively joined various clubs and activities. I was part of the Glee Club and the Media Club. My friends and I also had a dance group.
Even then I knew I wasn’t the most talented among us because I was never chosen to topbill school plays or to be the front act of variety shows. But I was still confident about what I could do and I had no qualms about performing on or off stage.
But it wasn’t long before my confidence bubble burst.
Encouraged by my experiences, I applied for the choir when I was in high school. After all, I could sing, right? Besides, it seemed like the cool thing to do. Everybody loved a talented singer.
I still remember how the music teacher made me sing a series of notes during the audition. I think she made me sing thrice before she brought me to one corner of the room. She said my voice didn’t sound quite right. She also said I wasn’t accepted in the choir but I was welcome to stay until the practice ended. Needless to say I lipsynched my way until the end of the practice.
I suddenly felt embarrassed of my voice. “How could I even assume I could sing?”
I never attempted to sing from then on. I just resigned myself to the fact that I had a bad voice. I didn’t even attempt to join a dance group.
My self-confidence just went “poof!”
But later on, I was able to say “Thanks for rejecting me!”
Eventually, I realized I had to thank the music teacher for rejecting me. The rejection helped steer me to the right direction.
Though I couldn’t sing, I discovered I could write and express myself well.
I joined the high school paper and I fueled my passion for writing.
I realized that writing was what I was cut out for. It was something I was good at and it was also something I enjoyed doing.
But, even if I was convinced I had a bad voice, I still like to sing.
I sing when nobody’s listening. I sing to Jamaine when it’s just the two of us in the room. I sing for Kernie when it’s just the two of us in the car. They don’t seem to mind my voice anyway.
I especially love singing in the shower because, for some reason, my voice actually sounds quite good when I’m in it.
I still dance sometimes.
I dance when I’m alone in the bedroom especially when I feel really, really upbeat. I can only imagine how I probably look like a crazy chicken on the loose. But I don’t really care. After all, nobody’s watching.
And, more than that, it just feels so liberating.
So now, I sing with all my might and dance with every bit of energy in my body. Nobody’s clapping this time. But I feel good and that’s enough to make me happy.
Have you ever felt like doing something but you don’t because other people told you you’re not good at it or, worse, they told you you just can’t do it?
I say, do it anyway.
Of course, it’s fine to do the things you’re good at but wouldn’t it be great to explore other things too?
Sing the blues, dance hip hop, write a story, paint a portrait, start a blog, play the guitar…try whatever it is you’ve always wanted to try. Do whatever it is that makes you feel happy and alive.
I think to truly enjoy life, we need to do the things we want, on our own terms, and just set ourselves free.
So that when the time comes, we won’t have “what ifs” and “could have beens.”
We’ll just look back at how we’ve lived our lives fully and see how everything has just been so amazing.
Maybe tomorrow, I’ll try painting.