Do you spend your life trying to be better than you are at the moment? Do you believe you are good enough as you are?
There is a huge difference between being good enough as a person and singing as well as you would like, but what I’ve noticed with so many singers (including myself) is that we can muddle the two.
We can feel like the last performance we did defines who we are as a singer, and sometimes who we are as a person. We can hold onto the idea that when we are not singing well enough it means that we are not good enough in ourselves and we need change bits about ourself.
This can lead us to seek to change things in order to be a good enough singer, rather than just to sing better. “If I could just sort out my breathing” “If I knew I could come in on the right note/the right time” “If I could fix my vocal technique” then I would be good enough rather than simply I would sing better.
We can tend to use how well we sing as a barometer of our worth as a singer, this means our value can not only change depending on how well we last sang, but also there becomes a huge amount of pressure on each performance as each one starts to define whether we are good singers or not. Our confidence depends on our last performance. We sing well we are good, we sing badly, we are bad. It can start to feel pretty existential really.
I find it can be useful to think of it the other way round, and remember that when we believe we are good enough, it can actually help us relax and produce a better performance. When we prioritise our enjoyment of the singing over how we will perform and whether we will be/are good enough, then we can actually produce the types of performance that we feel are good enough.
Believing we are good enough as we are doesn’t mean we can’t improve what we do, it just means we aren’t defective. We don’t need to ‘fix’ who we are, just a bit of what we do or how we do it.
I sometimes talk about how the language we use around our mistakes can help sustain this negative viewpoint, we don’t tend to say “I sang that flat” we say “I was flat”, we don’t say “I sang that badly”, but “I was terrible”. We use existential language which can make us feel more stuck in who we have defined ourselves to be.
How much does your struggle to sing as well as you would like define how you feel about who you are? Can you start to think as singing as something you do, and want to do better, rather than defining yourself as a good enough, or not good enough singer?
If there is one thing I believe above all else, it’s that the best person you can be is you, and the genius comes when you learn to let go and be the you you are. Then you can sing with freedom, and improve what you do from a place of security and joy.