Ok, so I haven’t been around for a long, long time. This space I created for myself has gone unused for months and I’ve missed it. Life has thrown me a few curveballs since I last posted, but I’m here, I’m alive, I’m stronger and I continue to move forward with positivity in my heart.
Instead of going backwards and catching up, I’m going to just jump right back in as if nothing happened. I think that is best. And, away we go…
Something interesting and slightly amazing has happened in the past month. I’ve sung karaoke on a few occasions.
Now, to understand why this is so remarkable, you must know a bit about me. Growing up, I was a big time performer. I sang in church on the regular, I was in choir, band, show choir, marching band, honor choirs and honor bands. I was in musicals and plays all through high school and loved it, loving it so much that I was a theater major in college.
I drove up to the Cities at the end of my freshman year of college to audition for an acting school in New York City, I nailed the audition and was accepted to the school…and then didn’t go. That’s a story for another day, but yeah, I was that guy.
Somewhere along the way after leaving college, having my two beautiful kids, doing the whole sports writing thing and everything else, that guy just disappeared. I mean, even to the point of insane amounts of nerves around large groups of people. I used to leave my seat at Target Center in media row with a few minutes left before half and the end of the game to get back into the media room before the game was over…because of my nerves over the crowd beginning to file out and come down towards me.
It got that bad for a long time.
A few months back, my friend from high school Erica—who has turned into an amazing “grown-up”—invited me out to sing karaoke. Now, we hadn’t seen each other in years outside of once at a Timberwolves game, so she wasn’t aware of the transformation in me since we had last seen each other frequently. While it was lovely to have an evening out and catch up with Erica some that evening, my nerves did not allow me to take the mic and get up in front of the crowd.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I see the regulars Erica sings karaoke with are heading out again to have a blast. After hemming and hawing for pretty much an entire day about going or not, I finally decided to go. On the drive there, the radio was cranked and I was singing along, completely reliving old memories, but as I found myself closer to the bar, my nerves just kept getting worse and worse. This was a feeling I knew all too well and began thinking there would be no way I would end up with the mic in my hand that night.
The bar is small, but every time I’ve been there it’s been fun. People there are nice and supportive of every singer and I’m comfortable there, which is very important for me. Now, I have no problems singing along when someone else has the mic and cheering them on like the rock stars they are, but still couldn’t find the courage to get up there myself.
I flipped through the books with the song listings for, well, way too long of a time, finding quite a large amount of songs I’ve sung a million times in the car and felt I’ve done well, but I kept flipping pages. I don’t know if I truly was looking for the “perfect song” to sing or just hiding in the books. Either way, person after person went up to sing, gave it their all, had a wonderful time and I was missing out.
Erica gave her, “Come on, Stephen…get up there” comments, but I had deflected them as I always have done in the past. I wasn’t going up there unless I really wanted to and no amount of awkward moments would make me change my mind.
That’s because my brain was already in overdrive, reminding me that one of the reasons I quit the sports writing was to allow myself time to do other things in my life, things I was missing out on to that point. Tonight was the night to change that, so I FINALLY wrote a song down and gave it to the woman playing the tunes for everyone.
Finally, after putting myself through more stress than needed, my name was called and it was my turn to take the mic. My song choice was a safe one for the first time up and sang Counting Crows “Hangin’ Around.”
Guess what happened? Nothing…and that’s a good thing. I wasn’t booed off the stage, nobody threw beer bottles at me and not a single person said to me, “Wow, do us all a favor and don’t sing anymore.”
Apparently that was all I needed to happen. I went up to sing two more times that evening and, on both of those occasions, nothing happened again outside of cheers from the supportive, fun crowd.
This past Wednesday the opportunity came up to go out for another evening of karaoke fun and, while my nerves were still there, it wasn’t as much of a struggle to get up there. With a slight tremor in my hand, I took the mic and sang Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” and this time…something DID happen.
The bar sang along, making me the most comfortable I’ve been in years while in front of a crowd and, although I have certainly sung better in my life, I didn’t care about a missed note here or there. It was fun, I loosened up and HAD…A…BLAST!
One of the reasons I felt the need to re-launch this blog was because hopefully I can use my insecurities and hang-ups as a lesson to help someone out there who may have the same issues.
Go live your lives, people. Don’t let the demons in your own head from your past dictate what you do now, today. Those demons only hold you back from missing out on something fun and, if you’re anything like me, you will hate yourself for not taking advantage of an opportunity when it comes up.
Even if that opportunity is something as little as singing karaoke.