When I was in high school, or maybe a bit earlier, I decided it might be interesting to be a photographer. This was after I gave up on being a ballerina (too fat and too clumsy), an astronaut (took calculus and couldn’t add), and for a brief time, Prince William’s Wife (too American and too common).
However, I eventually harbored a secret dream. I thought I might like to be a singer. Perhaps I would be on the stage and singing on Broadway, in some smash musical, or maybe I would be like Adele, except not nearly as good. I had settled, in my head, for an average career. Playing small venues perhaps, being a sort of “indie” artist. The one everyone listened to before it was cool to hear them on the radio.
The only problem to all of my planning and daydreaming about who I would write songs with and what gown I would wear to the Oscars (as I was obviously nominated for Best Song), is I have a massive case of stage fright. In high school I did a few plays and the act of speaking in front of others isn’t nerve wracking at all. I did it just fine.
Singing in front of other people, on the other hand, was a recipe for disaster. Sweaty palms, nausea, headaches, I just couldn’t breathe. Who, in their right mind, DID this sort of thing? I remember I auditioned once for a musical and I actually had to sing in front of ten other people.
I nearly passed out. I started so quietly I think only bats heard me and I had my eyes closed. Sweating through my t shirt I sang “Fever”, which I’d done loudly and proudly many a time in the shower and car, terrified out of my mind. I had my audience (my friends, really (I went to a very, very, small school)) snapping along, trying to be encouraging, but when you’re in near tears, the only thing you want is for the floor to open and swallow you whole, or for God to smite you then and there for all of your sins. At 16ish, I didn’t have nearly enough sins to warrant it, I was an obnoxiously rule abiding child.
This single experience, this one audition in what can be considered by most basically all to be an annoyingly “safe space” was enough to convince me of my crippling stage fright. I was content to be backup in a musical (if needed), not on stage at all (even better), and to hold my own shows in the safety of my car, where no one could hear me.
Jam of the day – The Revivalists “Wish I Knew You”