Updated: Mar 11, 2020
If you’ve been following my podcast/blog, you know that I’m on a journey to find myself ... at 53 years old. Crazy, right? This journey is proving to be a wild ride, one that involves courage, fear, intimidation, falling down and then getting back up.
I have wanted to quit and just eat cheesy popcorn and watch Netflix, I have wanted to abandon my creative self and just surrender to workaholism, and I have wanted to give free reign to my inner-critic. But instead of doing those things, I simply get back on the horse and I keep moving forward.
On this past Saturday I had the privilege of performing an originals set with two of the most wonderfully talented ladies I know. Chloe Josephine, who was the headliner, and Amba Tremaine. I was so nervous leading up to show day and my 35-minute spot felt like an out-of-body experience. I felt so out of my depth. You see, I suffer from function-singeritis. It’s like I don’t know how to just be myself on stage anymore.
At one point during my performance I was thinking, ‘What do I do with my hands?’ It’s like they had a mind of their own. I finally just let them drop down beside me. Duh. Then I was like, ‘What am I going to say about these songs?’ They’re my songs. I wrote them. I should have plenty to say about them, right? Nope. I had nothing. Nada. So I just let a stream of unconsciousness freely flow from my lips, just so I could get to the next song.
But the saddest bit for me, and this is real, I didn’t enjoy it. My most favourite thing in the world used to be getting lost on the music. Getting lost in the performance. I miss it like an old friend. I spent that entire performance on Saturday in my head, and not connected to what was in my heart. No matter how many people told me how much they enjoyed my performance, I didn’t. Because I wasn’t present.
On Sunday, I lamented and fretted and thought, you know what, I don’t need this. I can just stay in the comfort zone of function singing and let that be enough. Thankfully, I had another originals gig at The Bedford in London on Tuesday. I wanted to cancel, though. I wanted to stay down. And my circumstances were trying to assist me in giving up. Two of my three musicians were suddenly unavailable for a booking that’s been in the diary since last year. That was my chance to bow out. But instead of bowing out, I emailed the booker, explained the situation, and asked if I could do my set solo using backing tracks. They said yes. Now there’s no going back.
I sang four of my original songs for The Bedford gig, and for the first time in a long time, I did get lost in my own songs. I spoke with elegance and grace between the songs, and more importantly, I spoke from the heart. I was totally present through all four songs, well, for the first song, I could hear my own heart beating from nerves, but about a verse in that settled down. And, when I got back to my seat, someone had left me a lovely note saying how much they enjoyed my set.
My Saturday gig was just as well received from the audience as my Tuesday set, but I was in a different headspace. I struggled with receiving the praise on Saturday because I didn’t feel like I had earned it. On Tuesday, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could be present for my own music and allow my voice and my words to be heard. When I stood in front of that mic, I took a deep breath, allowed myself to just be and feel. And when I sat down, I felt triumphant.
I’ve got a long way to go on my journey, and it’s no longer to get back to myself. I am realising that this journey has to take me forward. It’s about rediscovery. Understanding who I am as a singer and performer now. Singing and performing may never feel as easy and effortless as it did back in the day, and that’s okay. I’m just glad that on Tuesday I had the strength to get back in the saddle and ride into my destiny.