“Am I too loud?”
“Am I too quiet?”
“What if I make a fool of myself?”
“Are they just lying to make me feel better?”
“Do I sound bad?”
These are some of the insecurities I began to develop around middle school. I was no longer able to shamelessly sing in front of everyone, and when I did I would think I wasn’t good enough. I never really understood why these insecurities developed. No one ever explicitly came up to me and told me I sang horribly. These insecurities just came to me and grew until I was afraid to sing at a volume where people could actually hear me. This was also the time when I realized that there were so many other people that sounded way better than me. I would constantly watch YouTube videos of kids that were around my age who sang so well, and I’d think I could never be as good as them.
I was no longer the small child that sang at family parties. I’d sit in the corner to avoid the adults that would ask me to sing. Slowly, I began to drift away from something I really enjoyed, singing. I didn’t completely drift away from it though. I was still in choir in my middle school, which really only consisted of three people (including me) since I did go to a very small school. But even then, I was still self conscious whenever I sang. People would make comments about how bad another person was at singing and I’d think, “Do they say that stuff about me behind my back?” I was constantly afraid that I’d be singing too loud and everyone could hear me singing horribly at church. This fear caused me to try to sing as quietly as possible.
My insecurity just grew more in seventh grade, which I would say was the peak. I wouldn’t play the instruments I used to play and I didn’t feel comfortable belting out and singing wherever and whenever. I didn’t want anything to do with singing because I was too afraid that someone would tell me that my singing was not good, even though people would still tell me that I sang well (when they could hear me), but I never believed them and only thought they complimented me because they felt bad for me.
I did regain some confidence by eighth grade. We learned how to harmonize with each other in our choir, and we’d constantly sing together trying to work on harmonies. We didn’t care if they even sounded nice, we just sang and had fun. The feeling of happiness I felt singing as a child was returning. I began to forget about the fear of other people making fun of my voice. I can remember in eighth grade when my friends and I sang for our graduation, and afterwards one of my teachers went up to me and said, “Wow I didn’t know that you could sing like that!” This time, I didn’t dismiss her compliment and I actually felt good about myself. This confidence did not last long though, because once I entered high school it was back to square one.
High school in general is scary. I barely knew anyone and walked around the hall most of the time with my head down. I was amazed by those who were so flamboyant and able to just go ahead and go up to people and randomly start up a conversation. There was this one girl in particular who was in my first class that was extremely out there. She was also a very good singer and she would bring her ukulele and sing all the time. Although it was not the main cause of my insecurity returning, it did add to it. Even though she was in the same grade as me, I kind of admired her for being able to put herself out there. I was once again that shy girl that no one heard sing.
I did not join the choir at my high school until sophomore year. Although I was in the choir at my old school it wasn’t an actual class and they never really taught us anything about music, so everything in my high school choir class was new to me. The beginning of the first semester was probably the worst. I remember for the first few months I would just sit down, keep my head down, and do what I was supposed to do until my next class. It came to a point where choir was a class I resented going to and would purposely walk slow so I could avoid it. When I finally did look up in choir, I realized that the girl next to me who was a freshman wasn’t that bad. She actually seemed pretty interesting. I don’t entirely remember how it happened, but slowly we began to talk and we started to become friends. Then, somehow, I began talking to more and more people from choir, mainly those that I shared the same voice part with, the sopranos. I even became friends with a senior which I was really surprised by because seniors terrified me so much then. (Honestly, some seniors still scare me and just the idea of being a senior soon scares me.) Before I knew it, I had gotten close with those in choir. Every day before class we would just sit down around each other and have little jam sessions. Once again, they made singing out something that wasn’t so scary and I started to not be afraid to just sing out and have fun. There were still times when I’d feel like I was singing too loud and everyone was judging me, but the fact that we were all collectively singing together made me feel less afraid. If it weren’t for the people I met in choir, I probably wouldn’t have gotten out of my bubble.
That fall semester I even auditioned for a solo. For the audition we had to sing in front of the class and the teacher had an iPad to record our audition. Although it wasn’t a big solo, singing in front of the whole class alone made me so nervous. We were able to audition for more than one song, and the very first time I auditioned it was terrifying. As soon as I had done it for one song though, it was as if it didn’t happen and my adrenaline was rushing. It actually even felt good singing in front of everyone, they were so supportive and cheered after I sang. It wasn’t just dead silence like I’d thought it to be. I then proceeded to audition for solos in other songs as well, because at that point I had nothing to lose. When the results for who got the solo came out, I heard from other people that I didn’t get one, and honestly, I didn’t feel bad. Mainly I felt proud that I was actually able to do the audition in the first place. When I got to choir, my teacher was announcing who got the solos and when he said one name, Emma everyone was confused because there was no Emma in our class. That’s when they asked, “Do you mean Emy?” It turns out that I did get a solo but my teacher wrote down the wrong name. At that moment I felt really happy and kind of nervous because it then hit me that I would have to sing in front of more people than just my choir class.
The choir was in a week and as it approached I got more and more nervous. I eventually found out that the solo I got was part of a duet, so that helped me because I wouldn’t be doing it all alone. The night of the concert was a rollercoaster of emotions. Both the person I was singing with and I were so nervous. The night of the concert before we got on stage, we practiced our duet over and over again. We had people listen to our duet and kept asking them if it sounded alright. Finally it was time for our duet, and I remember going up to the microphone and feeling myself get nervous but I still went ahead and sang. After the song was over, I felt so proud of myself for actually doing the duet without getting scared and just standing at the microphone frozen. My mom was in the audience and she told me that it was kind of obvious that I was nervous, but other than that everything else was fine. Since then, I have become more open to trying out for things and instead of feeling afraid of others making fun of me, I have come to the mindset that even if someone were to make fun of me it would mean nothing because I have friends that always support me and their support means so much more.