vulnerability

a couple of weeks ago i had a voice lesson meltdown. those suck balls in the moment cuz that awful voice in your head tells you that you’re worthless, your voice is worthless and you’re never going to get anywhere. and you’re crying and you don’t exactly know why, except that everything feels wrong, and you have this sense that the world is ending, you’re going crazy because you’re hysterical and you don’t know why you’re hysterical, and there’s this impending doom because your throat is tight and trying to break through is like taking down a brick wall with a wet fish. one minute you’re a bit frustrated, but essentially OK, and then the trigger, the hitch in your throat that reminds you how scary it is not being able to breathe, and then everything just gets tighter because you’re too busy ruminating on all your worst fears and reservations.

i’m my own worst enemy. an absolute headcase.

but:

as much as a meltdown/panic attack/anxiety attack sucks balls in that moment, it usually is a source of enlightenment. and even though you feel cruddy and emotionally drained after, at some point you realize how silly the whole thing was, and how silly you were for listening to those self-deprecating voices in your head in the first place. oh, and by the way, as tight as your throat feels, you’re not going to suffocate (or choke, or drown, or die).

voice lessons are therapy. and generally, when a round of panic and release happens in a lesson, i leave with some good advice. remember:

  • as much as you are driven to take care of others, you need to take care of yourself
  • you need to come to believe in yourself (i often say i know i’m a good singer, but i usually don’t believe it)
  • love yourself

but, i was particularly struck by one comment:

the vulnerability you think is your greatest weakness is actually your greatest strength.

do you know how freeing that is? i really suck at being free. like, total major fail. i suffer performance anxiety, in the sense that i never feel that i’m good enough, that my performance (singing or otherwise) is good enough, and i feel a constant need to excel, but i never attain a level that is satisfactory. no matter how many times people tell me i’m smart or that i’m beautiful, or that this particular performance was mind blowing. no matter how many As i get in school. it’s been that way since i’ve been a kid. perfectionism to the core. and perfectionism can never be fulfilled. it’s a losing game.

and i’m horribly emotional. i can’t stop myself from tearing up while writing this. it’s hard to tell people about upsetting things without completely falling apart. sometimes i just start crying over the silliest things. i was a “crybaby” as a kid, and that never quite left me. is it possible to feel too much? as much as it torments me, maybe not. maybe feeling that much allows me to reach some sort of deeper understanding that, when channeled correctly, could make my performance that much richer?

the two best classes i had in high school (besides choir, of course) were western philosophy and eastern philosophy. and the part that influenced me the most was reading rumi. rumi wrote a lot about vulnerability, in the sense that surrendering yourself brings you enlightenment. that letting go, surrendering yourself entirely is probably the hardest thing to do, but the way you can blossom from it, it’s transformative.

and that’s what i love so much about singing. when the stars align and everything clicks into place, there’s this feeling of having a universe inside you, that you’re taking in all the wonders of the world and sharing them with the world all in the same moment. taking that last step to be totally free, to surrender oneself entirely, is terrifying, just as terrifying as all the panic and anxiety and the feeling of suffocation. but it’s pure bliss.

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