This I Believe

Heather - Webster, New York
Entered on March 4, 2007

I’m the type of person who sings at the top of my lungs—from the subtle notes of Sarah McLachlan to the grungy, obnoxious notes of Guns ‘N Roses—while I’m in the shower, or vacuuming the kitchen floor, knowing that others must be able to hear me, but I don’t have to face them. It is only for me to judge whether I am good enough in those instances; I am my own Simon Cowell. My seemingly trivial quest to let myself share my singing voice and my love of singing with others has become representative of my struggle to overcome the lack of self-confidence that is woven into many aspects of my life.

It wasn’t until a few months ago, when my best friend, Max, asked me to sing along with him as he dabbled skillfully on the guitar, that I finally realized just how insecure I felt about openly doing something that I love. He begged for what seemed like a few days for me to sing for him just once. Finally, with Max’s agreement that he wouldn’t look at me while I sang, I gave in to what I knew was mostly a curious desire from within, and sang along to the Creed song One Last Breath. The words came out a little shaky, and I stared at the end table in front of me while I was singing, slouching low on the couch as though I had something to fear. At one point during the first verse, Max hit a wrong chord and stopped playing along with me on his guitar. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him looking at me, and the tension inside of me grew. When I finally stopped singing to save my pride, I let my insecurities take over, perhaps especially because of Max’s complimentary and kind-hearted nature. “I sounded good?” I asked doubtfully, looking shyly at the ground and feeling my body quiver with my rapidly beating heart. It gave me a huge boost when he assured me that he truly thought that my voice was beautiful, and I was finally able to suck in a relieved breath. Since then, we have sung together for fun many times, including one occasion on which we spent twenty minutes harmonizing to Aerosmith and Goo Goo Dolls songs in the Bazil Restaurant lobby

However, when Max’s parents asked me a couple of weeks ago to sing a song for them on the spot, I almost refused, my insecurities flowing through my brain and feeding the butterflies in my stomach. Yet, I gave in once again, and with a few overshot notes here and there, and a bit of off-tempo creativity, I got through the song. When I had finished, I was extremely pleasantly surprised to hear praise from even Max’s father, who calls it like he sees it. Max’s mother exclaimed, “You sound like a professional! I had no idea you were so talented.” Later that night, Max reported that his mom had continued to talk about my voice, beautiful to her, after I left to go home.

Slowly, I find myself growing more comfortable with who I am and what I can do. Recently, I’ve opened up and let myself laugh and dance wildly even when I might look like a fool; I’ve continued to push myself through all that I do with a perfectionist flare, even when my friends question my refusal to take the easy way out; and perhaps most importantly, I have begun to realize that the voice in my head is the critic whose opinion holds the most water at the end of the day. People around me are, for the most part, simply spectators, and if they happen to applaud me, that’s just icing on the cake.

I believe that life is about being brave enough to let yourself discover who you are, and that when you decide to share that, you will be respected for caring more about who you are and what you love than about your imperfections.