Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Guess Some Fears Just Can't Be Conquered

I'm not sure how many people that read this blog know that I LOVE to sing.  

Not only do I love to sing, but I'm actually pretty good at it.  Well, I'm pretty good at it as long as nobody else is around to hear it.

And I don't mean that in a "I sing like a cat, but as long as no one knows any better I'm going to tell them I sing great" kinda way.  I mean, when there's nobody else around - excluding my kids who get to hear me sing all the time when we're in the car - I can carry a pretty decent tune.

There have been a few occasions where I've stepped out of my comfort zone and tried to break my immense stage fright.  And it really is immense.  I get shaky, my stomach starts hurting, I get cold sweats, and just the thought of singing in front of people makes me want to puke.

I have found that there is one situation where I can somewhat "manage" singing in public...and that's if the crowd is so loud, I can hardly be heard.

Take karaoke for example.  While I was in college and went out with my friends pretty frequently, I started singing karaoke at a small bar we used to go to.  The first couple of times I did it, it was nerve wracking.  But, I found that the louder the bar was, the better I sang.  And the better I sang, the more comfortable I got doing it...and it became a regular feature to our nights out.

The first time I decided it would be fun to try and sing for the school I work for, it wasn't pretty.  I was so nervous that the singing sounded more like fingers down a chalkboard.  However, I decided to give it another go during summer school...after persuading the kiddos in my classes to scream and cheer for me as loud as they could WHILE I was singing.  And that time it was MUCH better. 

During the summer school talent show, I performed "The Cup Song" with two Jr. High students who asked me to sing while they did the cup accompaniment.  I started off nervous, but as soon as I opened my mouth the kids started yelling and cheering.  That got me a lot more comfortable, and I was able to carry the tune all the way through.  It was an awesome experience...and one that made me think I was getting over my stage fright.

I was wrong.

During the first week of school, Mrs. P. approached me and asked me if I'd be willing to do another version of the Cup Song with lyrics that she had written herself.  The lyrics were about our school.  

I agreed.  I figured I did a pretty good job at summer school, I could do it again.  She told me that she wanted me to do it for the first Terrific Tiger assembly of the school year which just so happened to be yesterday.

Being that one of the girls that did the song with me during summer school didn't actually attend our school, Peanut was recruited to take her place.

We practiced together several times, and when I sang in front of the two sounded really good.  I was ready.

Then yesterday came.  The minute I walked in to the building, my stomach started doing that tell-tale churning.  My palms started getting all sweaty.  For the first thirty minutes of school, I couldn't stop shaking.  It was time to face my fear, once again, and get up in front of the entire school and sing.

As Mrs. P. introduced us, there were a few claps from the kiddos.  And then silence.  Not a single sound as the three of us took our places in front of the entire school.  I was so freaking nervous by the silence, I almost couldn't stand.

I took a few deep breaths, and gave the girls the nod to begin.  I could tell from Peanut's face that she already knew how bad I was struggling.  The girls started their cup routine, and then it was time for me to sing.  The shaking could be heard through my voice.  I just couldn't stop.  I was so nervous...and it made for flat singing and weird looks from the audience.  I noticed the looks the kids and staff were giving each other.  Not mean looks, I think more looks of confusion more than anything else.  It was as if they were wondering why on earth I had been selected to do something like sing in front of the entire school when I couldn't carry a tune for anything.  Other looks were from those who heard my performance during summer school and were now confused as to why I sounded so terrible.

All in was a disaster.

The girls were awesome.  They did their cup routine perfectly.  Unfortunately, I couldn't match their expertise.  The song ended, and we received a few supportive cheers...but I also heard some laughter and comments as I started to walk away.  And I ended up walking back to my spot by my kiddos just wanting to crawl in a hole and never coming out.

For the rest of the day, I was met with awkward compliments.  People tried to be nice.  They tried to compliment me on a job well done.  But, younger kids are less skilled in the "if you don't have nothing nice to say" routine.  They were honest with me.  They told me how nervous I sounded, how strained the singing was, and how awful it really sounded.

I'm such an idiot sometimes.

I've made the executive decision that it's time to hang up my attempts on trying to break my fear.  It's just not going to happen.  I'm going to stick to singing in my car...and that's it.

No more volunteering to sing at school assemblies.  No more agreeing to sing if asked.  No more believing that it won't be as bad as I think it will be.  Because it will be.  And then I just make myself look like a teacher who thinks she can sing - but can't.

And the part that frustrates me the most is that I actually can sing.  The few people that have heard me sing, when I wasn't crazy scared, have agreed that I can absolutely carry a tune and have a great voice.  Just as long as it's not in front of a crowd of 400 students and the entire faculty and staff of our school.

So, my last attempt at trying to do something I really love doing and conquering a fear in the process is over.  I've learned my lesson the hard way, and will just walk away with my tail between my legs.  Thankfully, my singing will be old news in a few days, so I'll be able to move on and just forget it ever happened.  

On a positive note, my class did MUCH better in their special's class yesterday.  They had a substitute, which made me a little nervous, but I was informed that they were all very well behaved and I gave out a few homework passes to those kids who went above and beyond during their time away from me.

I will point out that the one and only time I've had a sub this school year, my kids were rockstars.  My sub told me that she most definitely would LOVE to sub for my class again because they were so well behaved.  So, at least I have that to be thankful for.  While many classes will act out for substitutes, my class won't.  That's a relief.

I've informed them all that each and every day, I will hand out ONE homework pass to a student that has done their absolute best in the specials classes.  Just one.  Each specials teacher will have the task of selecting that lucky student.  And if it's the same student each time, so be it.  

I definitely think that positive reinforcement will be the way to go.  Those kids covet the homework passes.  Even though I don't give out much homework, there's one assignment each week that the kids all know is coming - and will do anything to get out of.  And that's writing all twenty of their spelling words in sentences.  They all hate that assignment... but as long as it motivates them to try and win homework passes, I'm going to keep assigning it.

OK, time for me to get ready for my last school day of the week.  

The kids are lucky enough to have a day off tomorrow.  Me?  No.  I have a day long professional development day.  I'll be attending a Writer's Workshop workshop.  It'll be about the 12th Writer's Workshop workshop I've attended in the last few years... but writing is my most favorite subject to teach, so it's always nice to get more stuff and information to teach it with.

Have a fantastic Thursday!!



  1. Bummer about the "bad" singing, but I think if you get back on that horse, you'll just get more and more comfortable!

    1. That's the problem, I've gotten on the horse and few times...and it doesn't really get any better. Think it's time to throw in the towel. I might continue to karaoke every once in a while.. but my singing in front of the school days are over. LOL

  2. You are being way too hard on yourself! Sure-I could tell you were nervous, but I could also tell that you have a beautiful voice and a gift for singing. Please don't let that your fear win because I guarantee that most of what you thought was negative reaction was simply your performance paranoia kicking in. You did a fine job and I wouldn't say that if it weren't true.

    1. Aww, thanks. I am pretty hard on myself, but I hate feeling so stinkin' nervous. I appreciate the kind words, and it does help make me feel a little better about getting up there and doing it.


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