A woman with ADHD discovers one place where she always gets another chance to start over and get it right: singing class.
by Linda Roggli
I'm taking singing lessons.
It's the fulfillment of a childhood dream that — until now — was secreted into the furthest reaches of my tender heart. After my Big Birthday, though, I decided it was now or never. I chose now.
And I'm struggling. Not to stay on key — I've always been able to do that fairly well. No, it's "singing the vowels on my larynx" that has me befuddled. I can't do it. And when I accidentally find that place in my throat, I can't stay there in the midst of "ohs" and "oohs" and "ahs." Worse, I can't even tell when I've done it correctly.
It's frustrating to say the least and a test of my ADHD impatience.
But Laurece, my singing teacher, keeps smiling. She tells me that no one ever taught me to sing as they taught me to walk and talk, that everyone starts this way, that it's a process of unlearning before re-learning. More importantly, she says that there are unlimited opportunities to relax and literally find my voice.
"On your very next breath, you can try again," she says gently, when she notes my exasperation. "You get to start over in the next phrase, and in the next one after that."
Hmm. I have another chance to do it right. Lots of chances, in fact. It sounds perfectly logical but such easy self-acceptance has been missing in action for most of my adult life. Probably all of it, to be frank.
My internal censor rarely gives me permission to make mistakes, which certainly inhibits learning. I pride myself on my open mind and willingness to accept imperfection in others. But I don't make the same allowances for myself. I am impatient and angry when I don't catch on as quickly as I expect. Out the window goes self-compassion. In come criticism and self-judgment, those familiar ADHD sidecars.
To show up, lesson after lesson, with my vowels skipping past my larynx (a word I have consistently mispronounced; it's lair-rinks instead of lair-nix) bruises my ego. But singing isn't about ego. It's about structure and soft sighs and clear tones. And I always have another chance to get it right. Always.
So I stick with it, trusting Laurece to guide my vowels (and eventually my consonants) toward a better voice. It's a love-hate lesson. It's a love-hate Linda. And for now, she always gets another chance to do it right.
Does your internal censor rein you in even when you ache to try something new? How compassionate are you to yourself compared to your compassion for others? What voice do you call on to calm your fears?