In my elementary school days and straight through early adulthood, I had a paralyzing fear of singing. Singing and dancing like the Jackson 5 in show choir? NOPE. Pretending to be Christina Aguilera at homecoming? Not really. Screaming along to Bon Jovi/Madonna/Guns ‘N Roses at Silver Clouds? Only with 6+ shots of Jager or some other vile but effective concoction.
[Note: I do, however, belt out anything and everything in the comfort of my own car. Moments like this typically involve artists like Prince or David Bowie. Androgyny is a prerequisite for my music collection.]
I wasn’t always like this. It all began on that one overcast afternoon when I was 4. I was dressed like a cat, excited and happy to join my mother on a grocery shopping trip. We were going to buy vegetables. I felt grown up and weirdly uninhibited like most 4-year-olds do, so I sang. I sang songs I learned in preschool, songs Big Bird taught me on Sesame Street and the opening chords to the Growing Pains theme song – all with reckless abandon.
The thing is, I didn’t realize I was singing outloud. Not until the nice cashier lady stopped me and said, ‘My, what a beautiful voice you have!‘ did I come to the conclusion that people could actually hear me. This wasn’t just inside my head. THEY COULD HEAR ME. I compare this moment to when Adam and Even realized they were naked in the garden. It was a serious situation, and marked the very moment I would repress my *angelic voice for the next 22 years.
*Angelic = tone deaf squawking