“We can’t grow when we are only ever comfortable. We need the discomfort. We need the pebble in our shoe. We need the thorn in our side sometimes. We need to see what mental anguish is pacifying us to stay locked away. Just out of reach of our potential. Just shy of our greatness. Just comfortable enough not to ask questions. Sometimes we need to stretch ourselves. We have to feel the growing pains. But that’s also the signal that we are using muscles that are just aching to be of use.” -Chani Nicholas
It has been a rough week to say the least. Between a rainy 8 hour pilgrimage to Los Angeles for an intensive audition prep 2-hour lesson with my voice teacher, a crazy teaching schedule that had me in my voice studio until 9pm every night, and scrambling to carve out my own practice time, this week has left me mentally, emotionally, and physically worn out. To top it off, I have my first big audition of the season tomorrow with Opera Santa Barbara. The week leading up to any audition is always a roller coaster of excitement, anticipation, fear, and self-loathing. I start the week feeling ready to tackle anything. My voice feels powerful. I feel prepared. Everything is smiles and sunshine when I think about my upcoming audition.
But then, two days later, the negative self-talk kicks in. “I’ll never be good enough. Why am I wasting my time and money to audition? What if I make a fool of myself? Why should I even bother?” I become so worn out by all this crippling self-doubt that I try to come up with excuses as to why I shouldn’t go. My brain tells my body to start feeling sick to get out of the audition and my body listens. Suddenly, I’m feeling depressed, fearful, and, to top it all, sick. To make matters worse, I see all this coming. I know it’s going to happen. I know what to do to break the bad cycle I get myself into. But, my insecurities about auditioning are still stronger than the meditative, peaceful mind I have worked so hard to cultivate–old habits die hard, you know. This just leaves me feeling powerless and guilty that I couldn’t stop the negative sprial. I think become angry with myself for letting these insecurities affect me. Angry, confused, sad, and scared, my life is thrown into complete upheaval because of a few minutes of singing.
Even during those moments when I want to give up and stay at home hiding under my bed, I know deep down that I am going to that audition tomorrow. I will step into that room, smile at the nice people behind the table who mean me no harm, breath, and sing. As much as I hate auditions, I know that they can lead to performing-which is what I love. I know that the stress and trials that audition put me through are worth more than just the act of stepping out on that stage and singing. They teach me to deal with my own insecurities, to understand my own imperfections, to address my competitive nature, and to learn to love myself even when I fail. It’s a long, hard path we singers have to take; but, it is in the discomfort that we grow.