In an effort to better understand this necessity to be under the radar I turned to The Guru episode of one of my favorite television shows: Avatar the Last Airbender. I wanted to know about the voice that I can only seem to find in very controlled environments. It has been a nagging pain that only got worse when a friend and classmate of mine asked me if Beyonce was my favorite singer (because I listen to her every morning as I get dressed). I told him no, my favorite singer probably had to be Amos Lee and he asked why did I listen to Beyonce every morning then? I really did not have an answer and it has been gnawing at me ever since.
So I turned to Aang; and the episode tells me I need to work on opening my water chakra which is a pleasure center blocked by guilt, and my fire chakra which is blocked by shame. The second and the third chakra, would you believe me if I told you I just had a dream about being locked out of my hotel room #1023 on the 23rd floor? I did. I was in a towel and my professor was there, trying to help me get in and find my key. She walked with me through the halls looking for it and staying with me. And now thinking back maybe it wasn’t her so much as a the presence of spiritual fellowship and guidance as I look for that which unlocks the parts of me that are closed.
What do I blame myself for? Lots of things that boil down to not being good enough, whatever that means. Even though I can know that cognitively I am good enough and that the impossibly perfect standards that I once held dear are antiquated and need to be abandoned, I have lived with them for so long that they feel like family. Every day that I do not study I think of my most studious cohort and how much work they put in and I feel guilt at not being a “better” student. Every day that I do not run or sweat I feel guilt at not being in “better” shape. I mean it goes on and on, there is always better.
I want to get to a place where better is a myth and I can say today I did my best (period). I want to stop feeling so bad about who I am and what I did or did not do, I want to be a happy resident of Is and Am. God what would that feel like? To be in complete acceptance and in perfect alignment with the present moment and free of the burden of expectation. What would it be like to be free in every moment every day?
What are you ashamed of? What are your biggest disappointments in yourself? When I was at my prep school we had a talent show. I wanted to sing Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” I loved that song and I loved to sing big songs, songs that you could sing with your whole body. I liked singers who left it all out there and at the age of 6 I practiced at home and my mom told me I sounded good so I auditioned. I was told maybe I should do something with a group. It is funny the things you remember…so I ended up doing a group dance with some of my friends that we made up and I never got to sing my song.
In the 3rd grade we had to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up. I drew a female figure in a black dress and told the class I wanted to be a singer and a model like Tyra Banks. I have been obsessed with Tyra Banks ever since I can remember. She was a model and an actress, and while I never wanted to act I wanted to sing and I figured it was all the same. When I shared my dream with my class I remember being laughed at because I was not exactly modelesque, I was chubby and wore pigtails and did not really feel at home at that school yet. I did not cry or anything but I can recall the thought that somehow I did not match up with what I wanted, that I did not fit the mold of my dreams.
I tried out for my high school musical senior year with Jennifer Holliday’s “And I am telling you (I’m not going)” from Dreamgirls. True I can look back and say that I completely overshot my vocal abilities lol, that is a huge song, but I tried out anyway after trying to quietly practice in my room. I remember I had two friends come over to practice with me and I was so nervous to sing in front of them I would shake and my lips would quiver almost to the point of violent shakes. I had ingested years of being quiet and now that I wanted to sing loudly and with my whole Self, it was like I couldn’t access myself. I did good enough at the audition to make the B-cast basically…and even though I was cast with A-cast for certain songs it was clear who belonged where. I remember working on choreography for a song and there was no one there to help us so I made up the rest of the dance and taught everyone else—that same choreography was used in our show Strong Suit for any AHS-ers reading…I just remember it being a side-eye to the whole show and the casting. I knew I did not belong to be 2nd tier anything but again there was this disconnect, this not fitting the mold, this idea that somehow something about me did not match the person I felt I was. I chalked it up to physical but I am sure now that it was not all physical and that much of it was confidence and ability. I had questioned (read: doubted) myself for so long that I could not be my best me because I did not even know what that meant.
The reason I sing Beyonce every morning is because she puts everything in her performances. I know that when she sings a love song, she is tapping into the love she has for her husband when she sings it, I know that when she sang Resentment (my favorite song of hers) she was thinking about what it would be like to be in that place of betrayal and hurt. It may be a total façade, but in my head Beyonce is in alignment and she is congruent in the way that I want to be, in the way that I am working at being. And when I sing a Beyonce song, I have to do it full out. You cannot hum or glaze over or slightly perform her music, it calls for every part of you. It is calls for your absolute all and I love that feeling, especially first thing in the morning. It is spiritual in a way that I imagine some people see yoga as. It is a workout like running and it is emotional like a good cry. When the stans say that she is every single thing, it’s true.
And while I wasn’t able to give that answer the other night when I was asked, that is it, in a most roundabout way. All this talk about being your best self, what is the point if you are not able to actively put it into practice? If every day that you wake up it is a continuous cycle of “I think I am good enough, right?” and waiting for someone to confirm or deny. I would like to believe that I left “that life” in my 27th year of life and that here in 28 I know exactly who I am and what I want (and where I am going) because that’s sexy. I am not about to quit school to become a singer and a model, but I am going to work on not being so afraid to use my voice and sing a song with my whole body like I do every morning. I suppose I just want to be as naked as the world as I can be in the confines of my own home. Emotionally nude, spiritually bare, I want to be able to keep the feeling of sanctuary with me always. Yes. That is it exactly.