At some point in our lives, many of us have doubted our own abilities. Although we are passionate about the hobbies and interests which bring us joy, it is very easy for us to lose confidence in our skills when we consider pursuing it as a serious vocation. Katherine Barbara Montana shares such a story about how she dealt with her own self-confidence, when it comes to the activity she is passionate about - singing.
Singing has changed my life. From a very young age, I have been drawn to singing on a stage, and dreaming about belting alongside to show tunes. I remember at six years old, my mum played me the original soundtrack to Les Misérables. I fell in love with its beautiful score and how happy the show made me feel. Little did I know that my mother had skipped over the sad songs for me; I was shocked to find out at age ten that the story was, in fact, not as happy as I had previously thought!
Still, singing in general made me as happy as ever. I was extremely enthusiastic about it, and I enjoyed every single show, concert or choir gig that I did starting from the age of eight. In fact, I don’t believe there was a point in my life that I was not in a show or concert or preparing for an audition. It had taken over my life, and I was completely fine with that. I knew exactly what I wanted to be, and that was a singer.
As I got older, it became apparent I did not have the most typical singing voice. I had an extremely low voice, and seeing other girls my age hit soprano notes made me very jealous. When I was ten, I took a singing range test in my vocal class and could not hit most of the higher notes that the other girls in my class could hit. I started to feel stressed out at the notion of singing in front of that group, and this stress translated to the other singing groups I performed with.
As a teenager I became even more self-conscious in my singing abilities, and I remember worrying that it would affect how I was respected in the activities I participated in. I worried that my fellow performers made fun of me, or possibly thought I was a joke.
Due to having anxiety, my symptoms increased whenever I walked into rehearsal or choir practice. An activity that was once fun and exciting for me became worrisome and full of panic. The more I worried about what others thought of me, the less confident I felt, and thus the worse my performances got. By myself, I was able to sing confidently, but as soon as I knew someone was watching, I shrunk into a state of fear and worry.
During one show several years ago, I remember being terrified of singing my solos. I was worried that I wouldn’t be good enough, and I let a member of the production team know this. He was completely honest with me: he said that I didn’t have the strongest voice out of the entire cast, however, what made him pick me for the role was the enthusiasm and love of being on stage that I had consistently displayed. Additionally, he said that my voice was by no means bad, but rather unique and unconventional, and worked very well for specific roles. This notion very much surprised me, but I have learned to accept the voice I have been given and use it to my advantage.
I took his advice to heart. I am now confident in not just my singing but my other abilities as well. Though I often joke about the limitations of my voice, I feel content with how I sing and my limitations as a singer. Though I may never be cast as Christine Daaé (The Phantom of the Opera), Éponine (Les Misérables) or Elphaba (Wicked), I know that I will always be happy and enthusiastic in what I do. Working towards being confident in who I am has helped me improve both myself and my abilities.
Though I still struggle with anxiety today, I am less concerned about how others perceive my singing voice, and feel much more confident in the voice that I have. Putting a pressure on myself to be perfect caused me unnecessary stress that effectively weakened my voice, which made me even more stressed, and thus started a vicious cycle of anxiety and self-doubt. Learning to love myself for the abilities that I have has helped significantly reduce this cycle, and has shown me that I can do what I love while still being authentically myself.
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