A singer/songwriter I’ve been working with recently told me that she can’t stand listening to recordings of herself. That she cringes at every missed note and tonal imperfection. She’s also a recording engineer working on her own projects, which makes things that much more complicated. And painful for her.
In her words, “I just don’t like the way I sound. I hate my voice.”
Many of us have this type of twisted perception. And I say twisted because I don’t believe that we dislike our voices.
I believe that we dislike what we fear our voices might be suggesting about us… that we aren’t perfect. That we’re not enough. That we’re not OK.
I believe that we can’t stand sending our voices (and ourselves) out into the world, naked and vulnerable, because we can’t control the response. And we desperately long to be in control… of how we deliver ourselves, of how we appear. Of what others think of us.
Only toward the end of a decades-long career as a professional singer was I able to listen to recordings of myself and really enjoy them… flaws and all. Now I listen, not past those flaws, but through them, to the life that is flowing from my heart, through my voice, and into the world.
In fact, the imperfections are often what make that sharing, and our voices, beautiful. Why? Because when we’re trying to be perfect, to control our voices and what others think of them, we’re no longer being honest. When we’re desperate to stay inside the musical lines of what’s ‘right’ and ‘good’, we surrender the vulnerability and bravery required to fully and truly share ourselves. Without reservation. Without hesitation.
Back in my own recording days, I used to drive myself crazy and berate myself for every little vocal glitch, real and imagined. And I therefore missed many opportunities to take huge chances… chances to be honest, vulnerable, and brave.
No longer. Now you can’t shut me up. Brave, brilliant, glorious mistakes and all.
Last week my cousin asked me to record a song of mine she loves, a song I recently sang at her wedding. Where once I would have hesitated, hedged, and found a reason not to, I immediately said yes and– still in my PJs– sat down at the piano and sang.
I sang my heart out.
Here’s the iPhone recording I sent to her, and now to you, with an open heart. With love. And with so much joy…