Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been very shy and fearful about speaking up in front of others. So it was a huge act of courage when in Primary 2, I raised my hand in class and nominated myself to be the class monitor.
When the time came for everyone to vote and my name was called, I turned to look around the classroom and saw that nobody had raised their hand to vote for me. From then on, I told myself that because nobody wanted me to be their leader, I didn’t deserve to be one.
After that, every time I was in a leadership position, I always felt I wasn’t good enough, and after several failed attempts, I concluded that I’m just not meant to be a leader, and it’s always better if someone else takes charge.
When it came to performing as a solo singer, I found myself struggling with the same things – nobody wants to hear me, I didn’t deserve to be performing in front of everyone, and I constantly feared judgment and rejection. Every single time I took the stage or went for an audition, my entire body tensed up and trembled, and my voice sounded so much worse than when I’m singing alone or in a group.
At the end of 2016, I attended the very first TruSelf Singing Weekend. The first time I sang in front of the class, my usual nerves kicked in instantly. But as the program went on, I discovered that singing isn’t just about being able to hit the right notes. Performing a song was also about getting connected to who I am, and being comfortable with myself, even while standing in front of everyone else.
During the program I also realized that everyone else had their own anxieties about performing, and knowing that I wasn’t alone in my struggles allowed me to feel more relaxed while in front of the class. As I sang more over the weekend, I became better able to manage my fears and self-consciousness.
Five months after the program, I led my first 3-hour art workshop to over 40 participants, something the shy me had never ever thought I would be able to do.
After attending subsequent Singing Weekends to further improve my self-expression and overcome my performance anxieties, I began to pursue my wildest dreams and goals as a professional artist – to travel the world and paint 100 murals that inspire people to live their dreams.
For this project, I have to take the initiative to collaborate with others abroad in order to have a wall to paint each mural. I also lead workshops for the local communities (sometimes with the help of a translator) to paint their dreams, which I then incorporate into the mural design itself. Over six months last year, I completed seven murals in five countries, something I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if I continued to be paralyzed by my beliefs of how I wasn’t meant to be a leader.
When we sing and express ourselves to an audience, we come face to face with our fears and anxieties — fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of failure, being not good enough, etc. These barriers that arise and hold us back or stop us when we perform a song, are the very same ones we deal with in almost every other aspect of our lives as well, whether we’re trying to progress in our professional goals, build connections with our loved ones, or pursue our passion and our wildest dreams.
And each time we step up to the front and perform a song as our authentic selves, we’re learning how to manage and overcome these fears that stop us from becoming the leaders of our lives.
I went from being a very shy and invisible person who didn’t think I deserved to be a leader, to being able to lead workshops and perform comfortably in front of an audience, to going after my wildest dreams as an artist. And most importantly, I’m now better able to overcome my barriers and fears towards leadership and performance, and to lead my life powerfully on my own terms.
And I know you can too.