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Confessions From the Past

The Chapter About Sucking At Singing


Some people are dicks. It’s just the way life is. I’m still in the process of learning this right now.

Today, at the music school you’re attending for the next couple of months, you were told you’re not a good enough singer to be a performer.

But who gives a shit? You’ve never wanted to be a performer anyway. You’re a writer.

But. The thing. You know the thing. That voice. I still hear it now even though it’s been almost six years.

“You’re just not good at anything. You’ve never been good at anything. It’s okay, some people just aren’t.”

I knew that was a load of shit the minute it left his sixteen-year-old douchebag ex boyfriend scum bag lips. (You used to call them fish lips, remember? Barf. Okay, now stop remembering.)

I drove straight home after that and picked up a guitar. ‘THIS will be my thing,’ I thought! It had to be. I could barely walk after quitting track after just one practice. Athletics, I quickly (all too quickly) found out, were not (COULD NOT) be My Thing. I had to start elsewhere.

‘Music is My Thing now,’ I’d literally decided as if it were no big deal; like people do that all the time. I didn’t feel I had any talents or gifts that the good Lord had blessed me with but I’d be damned if I wasn’t about to make some after the Fish Lips Debacle.

I played for six hours straight that night. And the next night. And the next. All I could think was “I’ll show him. This is MY THING.” And then something amazing happened.

I started to like it. And then something even more amazing happened.

I started to love it.

Senior year, four months after learning to play, I’d entered a local talent show where my best friend and I played. Remember that? It was so much fun even though we got second. But second! Oh, second felt so good because it proved that I had a Thing now! A Thing I could win second place at!

He came. He heard. He came to your Boring Ass Job a few days later to let you know he’d seen.

“You did good,” said Fish Lips. “It’s too bad you can’t play piano too. But playing two instruments is way harder than one. At least you’re okay at guitar.”

“I can play piano.” I said blatantly, anger rising up in me. Seriously, why did you ever hang out with this kid, LET ALONE DATE HIM. WERE THE FISH LIPS NOT ENOUGH?

“No you can’t.”

“No, but I mean, I will. I’ll learn it.”

“Bet you can’t.” he spat.

This went on for a few more years. I can now play guitar, piano, ukulele, harmonica, and glockenspiel all fluently. Shove it, Fish Lips.

But now, six years later, I’m hearing the same thing I heard at sixteen only this time from a man three times my age who actually knows something about music.

“You just can’t sing. Some people can’t. It’s fine.”

But he doesn’t understand. This is My Thing. My THING. Everyone has a thing and this is mine and “some people just aren’t good enough, it’s fine,” is NOT FINE.

But singing isn’t like picking up a guitar and playing until your fingers bleed. It’s not like playing a piano until you literally can’t move your hands anymore. You either got it or you don’t.

And I don’t got it.

Sure, I can take vocal lessons. I can do all those weird “Mah!” sounds Sharpay does in High School Musical every day for the next two months here. And maybe it would help a little. But my voice is still my voice.

Damn, I’m glad Fish Lips never bet I couldn’t sing. My poor sixteen-year-old self wouldn’t have dealt with this well. Not that my twenty-two-year-old self is either (like laying in bed for the last two hours crying to friends, throwing a pity party, and watching reruns of the Mindy Project) but whatever, you get it.

But what I want to tell you right now, Future Self, or remind you, rather, wherever you are in life, is that you are a fucking talented musician. You’re a kickass guitar player and an even better songwriter and even though it took an asshole and a bad attitude to help you figure that out, you’ve always had what it takes to prove someone wrong. In fact, I think THAT’S more your Thing than anything else. (Except with track. Man, did you fuck that up. But, I mean, running?! What the hell were you thinking in the first place?) You’ve always taken words of criticism and turned them into poetry and fuel for creativity. So, fuck Fish Lips. Fuck anyone else's opinion. You’ll figure it out. You always have. You always do.

(No, the answer is not lip syncing, bitch. Stop thinking about that.)