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Slaying Stage Fright in my Pursuit of Happiness

Slaying Stage Fright in my Pursuit of Happiness
Guest Blog Post by: My 40x40

Tomorrow I’ll be collecting my last paycheck for about 14 months. After almost 10 years, I’m switching career paths from communication to education, going back to school to become a teacher. It’s a path I’ve considered for several years, and in a way, music has inspired me to finally take this leap.

Singing is a fairly new hobby for me. I’ve enjoyed singing all my life, and I dreamed of singing professionally (or really even just publicly) for a large chunk of it, but I didn’t truly give myself the permission to pursue it until recently. I would dip my toe in the water, then immediately retreat because honestly, singing is scary for me. It’s liberating and joyous and utterly terrifying. If the number one fear is public speaking, I’d imagine it’s only because people are so rarely asked to sing in front of large crowds (and really, small and intimate crowds filled with people I interact with every day are much more intimidating to me than big rooms filled with anonymous strangers).

When I started singing with a band about three years ago, we never had a name, we never gigged, we fizzled out after about seven months. But in making a commitment to this band, I was making commitment to go out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. (Truth: pushing past your comfort zone is like resistance training for your emotional strength.) When that band broke up, I knew I needed to renew that commitment to myself and find another group.

I’ve been with my current band about two years now. Almost every week, we get together to practice new material, but for me, it’s also a way to practice managing fear and insecurities. I’m not totally in control yet, but every week, it gets a little bit easier, and bit by bit, the fear of going to rehearsal or playing a gig is replaced with excitement. I wonder why I didn’t face my fears and do this sooner, and what I could have accomplished if I’d been a bit braver.

When I started thinking about the 40 things I wanted to accomplish in the next 10 years, many of the ideas involved music: singing the national anthem in public, performing an entire song solo, writing and performing my own song, etc. I realized that committing myself to a 40x40 list is a documented way of permitting myself to explore my passions despite insecurities. It’s a reminder to be focused and fearless, and it’s a promise to myself to make the most of every moment. It’s an attitude more than a checklist, and it’s one that would have been impossible to adopt without first expanding my emotional boundaries (which admittedly are still pretty limited) and recognizing that sometimes it’s worthwhile to explore what lies on the other side of fear.

That kind of attitude is what’s freeing me to try something drastically different with my career. I’m scared, but I’m really excited. It’s kind of like reviewing lyrics on a gig night: I’m hyperaware of everything that can go wrong, but I’m ready to take the risk. I worry that I won’t be able to pay my mortgage or that I’ll discover I’m a horrible teacher… On the other hand, I dream that there are rooms full of kids who are open to what I have to offer, and that I have the power to change their lives for the better.

I’m not saying that music motivated me to quit my job. I like to think that I would have eventually made this move regardless of other circumstances. I’m following a path I was always meant to follow, and I’ve been inspired in many ways by many people. What music did for me was to help me to manage the knots in my stomach that would inevitably arise every time I considered making this move. Without all those knots in the way, I could truly listen to my gut and take charge of the direction I want my life to follow.

I’m finally excited about trying a new gig, and I’m ready to take the stage. 

Guest Blog Post by: My 40x40

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I’m 30 going on 40. I’ve got places to go and people to sing with. This is where I’ll share posts, photos and videos of my journey. At least until I sign a book deal and decide to publish stuff in my book instead (because “Write a Book” is on my 40×40 list). Hope you find it enjoyable and inspiring (because “Make Someone’s Life Better Every Day” is another one on the list). Follow me on Twitter @my40x40.

Check out Music Clout’s list of Gigs and Music Festivals currently looking for artists to book.


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