I have a confession to make. For many years I have held back on sharing one of my greatest gifts with the world, mainly because I wasn’t able to see it as a gift. I’m talking about my singing voice. Since I was a teenager, I’ve considered my ability to sing as more of a burden than a blessing. During a recent trip to New York City, a dear friend and soul sister of mine helped me break free from the shackles that held my voice in captivity. For the first time in over a decade, I was able to truly embrace my voice as a gift.
As a child, I loved to sing and I always had a powerful, melodious voice. At age 13, I enrolled in voice training lessons. My dream was to have the confidence to share my singing with more people. Every week I would go to my singing lessons and learn different techniques to make my voice project louder and stronger. I was training to compete in a music festival and was excited to share my voice and sing in front of many people. But the real reason I was taking these voice lessons was because singing brought so much joy to my life. Freedom has always been my number-one value and when I sing I feel truly liberated from all internal and external boundaries and limitations.
But when it was time to get up on stage at that festival, I was extremely nervous and uncomfortable. I got all caught up in having to win the competition and be validated by others for my singing voice. I handed my power over to the judges and let them determine whether my voice was a gift or not. Unfortunately, I was not ready for their judgment. I came in fourth out of five participants, and the judges’ feedback was that my voice sounded too nasal and forced. I pretended I didn’t care and that it didn’t bother me, but deep down it really hurt. I was already in a pretty fragile state as my confidence and self-esteem were quite low from being picked on for many years leading up to this. I didn’t want to create any more reasons to be treated differently and feel even more isolated. So I dismissed how amazing singing made me feel and listened to the judges, instead of my own heart. From that point onward I stopped singing altogether.
More than a decade later, I couldn’t stand the suppression anymore. As a compromise, I decided that I would only sing to myself. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about facing any judgment from others. At first, I started singing in the shower, then around my apartment, in the kitchen while I was cooking, and sometimes I would even print out some lyrics and sing to myself in the mirror. Being able to express myself in that way lifted my spirits and brought so much more energy back into my life. But I still could not get myself to sing in front of other people.
After spending so much time over the past few years working through other blocks in many areas of my life, I recently came to the conclusion that it was time to liberate myself once and for all. I had to walk the talk. If I was teaching youth how to change their limiting beliefs, how to love, honour and value themselves, and how to overcome their fears – then I needed to continue to face the fire myself!
A couple of months ago I got an amazing astrology reading from my dear friend and soul sister, Ophira Edut, one of the AstroTwins. In this reading I was told that it was incredibly important for me to find different ways to express myself other than speaking and writing, and one of the examples she gave was singing. Apparently, my North Node (the destiny point in the chart) is in Taurus, ruler of the throat. Ophira suggested that singing would unblock stuck karma around my self-expression that was actually an important part of my spiritual growth. Without telling her anything, it was as if she knew I had been hiding my singing voice from the world. She suggested that a great first step would be to go do karaoke and even offered to take me to her favourite karaoke spot in NYC during my next visit to the city.
When the moment finally arrived two weeks ago, I felt more nerves than when I got up in front of 3,000 people to speak at the Hay House “I Can Do It” conference in March. Pretty amazing, considering that the small Japanese karaoke bar was half-empty, and my “audience” was a group of friendly, but tone-deaf, dudes out on the town for a night of bachelor party drinking. Still, I was intimidated—but I didn’t allow it to faze me this time around. When my name came up on the screen, I grabbed the microphone, legs shaking and all, and belted out a tune from the depths of my soul. I felt every note move through my body. Every word that came out of my mouth was a massive release of energy. I felt passion deeper than ever before. I was truly FREE!
To face down my fears even more, I had Ophira record my performance on her iPhone.
After I finished, I sat down, checked in with myself and realized something very profound. All this time I thought that my greatest gifts were only what others defined as valuable. I stopped singing in front of people because a few judges didn’t value my voice. That night at karaoke I learned that our greatest gifts are not what others value at all; instead they are the things that we do in our lives that make us feel over the moon happy. In fact, the beer-chugging crowd at karaoke barely paid attention to my “performance”—but in the end, that didn’t matter. When we set ourselves free from the judgement of others and do the things that make our hearts sing, bodies bounce and spirits soar – our self-expression becomes a beautiful offering that we can share with this world.
I deprived myself and others of sharing one of my greatest gifts for more than a decade. So my plea to you is simple: find the things in life that truly uplift you – the things that make you feel overjoyed and fully FREE. And do them as often as you can! Don’t worry about doing them “perfectly” or get hung up on “performing” for others. The greatest gift that you can ever share with this world is the positive feelings and energy that emanate from you when you do the things that you truly love!
Now go on and share your gifts with the world!
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Michael Eisen is the founder of the Youth Wellness Network, an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth across the globe to live happier and more positive lives. To learn more about Michael and the Youth Wellness Network, visit: www.youthwellnessnetwork.ca, connect with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter: @youthwellnet