I’ve been studying inhibition lately (most of my adult life). What I am noticing is that, although I know significant figures in my childhood certainly had a role in shaping my behavior, I also have to take responsibility for my own constitution. My brother was raised in the same household and was able to override the compulsion to act (or not act) based on the opinions and desires of others. I, however, shut down the moment I felt criticized or less than perfect.
I wanted to sing, but was too afraid.
My brother became a music teacher and prolific songwriter. There are few instrument he does not play. He is at home on a stage or in a studio. He has been music director of more than one church. He has put together performances for children and was quite an animated character himself.
It wasn’t that simple for me. But I have many accomplishments of which I am proud. I sang in concert choir in high school. (I cried and could not make it through the audition, but made it into the choir anyway.)
I sang in a church choir when I was in my early twenties. We even sang for a local cable program once.
In my thirties, my husband at the time sang duets with me in church a couple of times. In spite of my fear, I actually did fairly well. He, on the other hand, kept missing a chord and eventually walked out, leaving me on the stage alone.
During my thirties, I also sang in a studio several times while my brother recorded yearly family Christmas CD’s. Many of our family members participated on these and we had a blast.
A few years later (while in my forties), after joining an Artists’ Way group, I did the same song that my then husband had botched, at the same church with a different accompanist. It was great, even if I stood like a statue. After a seminar that dealt with overcoming fear, I sought out someone to collaborate with musically. I learned her original songs and eventually sang them at coffee houses and open mic nights at the Bluebird Cafe. I completed my first set of lyrics and she set them to music. I did have incomplete lyrics on bits of paper in several nooks and crannies around the house, but had never finished any before then. Later I sought out a couple that played piano and sang professionally to accompany me at a coffee house.
Lately, I have sung in a church choir that includes professional singers backed by a band. I also went to Canada last year (at 47 years of age) to work with a vocal coach that works primarily with people who suffer from stage fright. Since then I have only sung once at church.
As I look back, I am amazed that I have done so much musically in spite of my fears. My next opportunity to sing will be on Easter and I am really looking forward to it. I am still struggling with being on stage because I love it, and yet it scares me.
So I am working to overcome my inhibition. It has been a healthy exercise to name all the musical things I have done. Ironically, it seems incongruent to say I am inhibited and then list all the ways I have participated musically. I was not as animated as I would have liked. I have not been a performer, but a singer. My next phase of personal development will include a component of entertaining, since that is where my true inhibition lies… not within the singing of the song, but with the performance of it.
So, by me taking responsibility for my current level of inhibition, I can do something about it. I am working on it now!