Me? Sing a solo in front of everyone?
I loved to sing, and I’d loved music for as long as I could remember. I could sing with the safety of a chorus around me. But being singled out to sing in front of a crowd brought me debilitating stage fright: the visibly-shaking, voice-losing, becoming-physically-ill kind.
One time in high school, I was asked to sing a solo—even though I hadn’t auditioned! And my stage fright was so gripping that I ended up getting sick. I was without a voice on the day of the concert, bedridden, and physically unable to sing the solo.
Being singled out to sing in front of a crowd brought me debilitating stage fright.
Maybe you can relate. Having all eyes on you can feel like being judged. Not only was I afraid of that, but I was also afraid that I wasn’t good enough of a singer. But what bothered me most was having a performance be all about me. In my mind, I was the one people were looking at. I was the one doing the singing. I was getting the music out.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was looking at it all wrong.
Around this time, I had been learning more about Christian Science, which is based on the teachings of Christ Jesus. After all the remarkable healings he performed, Jesus humbly told his followers, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). How could he say that? He knew that his abilities came not from some personal power, but from one, unlimited, divine power: God.
Acknowledging that there is one God—one force, one Ego that governs and is All—was pivotal to Jesus’ ministry. And understanding that this power is good, and that each of us is the very expression of this goodness, brought healing to countless individuals and situations. What’s remarkable is that the power Jesus’ healings expressed wasn’t just for the people in his time, but for all who practice his teachings—for all time.
Nineteenth-century healer Mary Baker Eddy, who followed Jesus’ teachings and discovered the divine Science behind them, put Jesus’ humble remark another way, writing: “Man is the reflection of Soul” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 249). Since God is Soul—the author of all color, form, beauty, and ability—and we are actually the spiritual reflection of Soul, then we each express God in a distinct, needed way: We each express qualities such as grace, poise, joy, and beauty.
As I focused on the joy of singing and my love for the music, my fear of an audience faded. I was just there to honor God!
Now, I’d thought that singing was all about me. That I was responsible for the whole performance—as if I were the very author of the sound. But as I began to understand that I could “of mine own self do nothing,” and that instead, I reflect God, this took the pressure off. It helped me focus less on me personally, and more on Soul.
My mother, who is a Christian Scientist and was a voice teacher at the time, also helped me get a more spiritual view of singing. “Sing to God,” she would tell me during our voice lessons. “Singing is between you and God.” This was a great comfort to me, because I was able to think more about what God, Soul, is, and less about what an audience member was thinking.
By the time I entered college, I began to audition willingly for solos and became one of the youngest soloists ever selected to perform at my school. The funny thing is that I never set out to heal myself of stage fright. Instead, as I learned more about what Jesus taught, it naturally led me to being happier and healthier, and the type of debilitating stage fright I’d experienced just dropped away. While practice certainly helped familiarize me with the practical demands of being a soloist, what gave me confidence was the knowledge that Soul was the author and I was Soul’s humble expression. As I focused on the joy of singing and my love for the music, my fear of an audience faded. I was just there to honor God! Choir directors told me that it was natural to get some butterflies before a performance, but my singing was never again stifled by nerves or extreme fear.
Today, when I’m asked to solo, I’m filled with joy to be able to share music with others. I’ve discovered that singing is not a personal ability, but a product of understanding that all good comes from God, and that I am a needed, individual expression of that goodness.
That’s a healing idea all of us can take comfort in, whether we’re performing on a stage or in any other activity of our lives.