You’ve heard the stories a million times; someone turns down an investment opportunity because they’re afraid to take a chance and they lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Or someone lives with a broken heart because they never asked out the person they secretly love because they’re afraid of rejection.
We all have fears, whether they are completely rational (huge flying cockroaches) or somewhat random and irrational (mustard). Yes, those are two of my fears, and if I ever come across a huge flying cockroach eating from a jar of Gulden’s, I believe I’ll pass out.
This past weekend I conquered one of my lifelong fears, and I’m still a little surprised.
All my life I’ve been afraid of singing in public. I loved music, and as a kid I used to sing by myself a lot. In my bedroom. With the door shut and nobody home.
I have no fears speaking in front of people, even large crowds. I never felt scared or nervous; in fact it was quite the opposite, I enjoyed it. I felt confident, so why couldn’t that speaking confidence carry over to singing?
Well, for starters I couldn’t sing for my life. The only high notes I ever hit was when I’d stub a toe. There was no way I could unleash that on the general public.
I loved karaoke nights and always admired the people that got up to sing. I sat enviously as people got up for the first time and belted out on of their favorites. People would ask you, “Are you going to sing?”
“Uh-uh,” I’d say. “I can’t sing.”
Well, after sitting and watching others, I finally took a leap of faith Saturday night at Neir’s Tavern’s monthly karaoke. To be sure, I’d had a few, but if I was going to do this I wanted to really feel this, so I paced myself.
I have a lot of songs I’d love to sing, but the one I ended up going with was “Yellow Submarine.” I figured that Ringo wasn’t such a great singer, so it was a safe song to debut with.
My heart was pounding as I waited for the call to the stage. Luckily, the girl who went before me was also making her debut, and during her song she put the microphone in my face.
In that split second, I had a choice to make: sing or go home. And I sang.
It was only a line or two but I sang. After that, getting up by myself was a formality. By the time the night was over, I would sing two more songs, one a duet with my wife.
Speaking of my wife, our car broke down in Jamaica a few weeks ago. It was getting late, we had about 20 bucks on us and my phone was dying. The insurance company was sending a tow truck, but it was an hour away. It was cold and we weren’t dressed for standing outside.
So we went into a corner bar on Jamaica Avenue. Every head in the place turned to stare at us when we came in, there were whispers and nods.
The bartender came over and asked if this was our first time there. She also asked for ID before we could have a beer.
We stayed about 15 minutes. An old drunk came by and was talking up a storm, I had not a clue what he was saying.
To be honest the place was really quiet, we felt a little uncomfortable, and so we left and waited outside for our tow. He arrived a few minutes later, sorted out our problem, and we were soon on our way home.
But looking back on that encounter, I recognize that a lot of how I felt was driven by fear. And I think that some of the reactions we received were similarly inspired. Why were we all afraid? It was because we didn’t know each other.
How many problems between people could be resolved if they only knew one another, and if they weren’t afraid to get to know each other better?
Special things are brewing in Woodhaven, and there will plenty of new opportunities for people to come together and meet.
I wish I hadn’t wasted so many years of my life being too afraid to sing, but fears can be overcome. Sometimes it’s just a little leap of faith, something we all have to be a little bit more willing to take every now and then.