Fear Factor

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I love to sing.  For as long as I could remember, I’ve sung.  I was raised in church, so I sang at youth meetings all the time.  I did the cliché thing in my room and sang in the hairspray bottle, in front of my mirror, while wearing a skirt on my head (because I had a short bob, I needed long hair to flip around and tuck behind my ears).  (Sidenote: These skirts ranged from a maroon one to a blue rainbow-colored one.  I have black hair, by the by.  That’s not awkward).

Although I sang growing up in church, it wasn’t until the late 90s, when I sang for my first city-wide talent show, that I started to realize that I might be kind of good.  You know, up until then, you can sound like cats dying and your parents will tell you you’re good.  But now, the public was about to hear me…and until they hear you and respond, then it’s not official, right?  I continued to sing on worship teams and as I got older I was given great opportunities to lead worship for youth rallies held once a month in the city.   That’s when I realized that my heart was drawn to leading worship.  I didn’t want to be a solo artist and sell mainstream music.  I just wanted to lead worship.   I sang at weddings, but nothing brought more joy than worship.

In 2004, I had an even more amazing opportunity to lead worship in Mexico on a mission trip. We thought we could sing English songs and throw in some Spanish ones here and there just for kicks.  When we arrived,we realized that it wouldn’t work.  So for 7 days we sang the same 4-5 English-to-Spanish songs over and over again. It was the most amazing, thrilling time of my life.  I still remember the adrenaline I felt on stage and seeing those people worship and coming to the realization that I could do this for the REST of my life.

We came back and I fell into a horrible funk.  My sister and I left our parent’s church to attend an independent church that was still growing.  I couldn’t find my place there and after 3 years, we left.  We went to a more established church that was on its way to becoming a mega church.   I remember our first day there, hearing the worship leader sing, and think there is NO way I would try out.  She was amazing.  I was NOT that good.   It didn’t help that the last time I had sung was 2004 — 5 years.  I felt rusty and lost most of my confidence, if not all.   After attending the church for 1 year, I finally mustered up the courage to try out.   I sang 2 songs in front of 3 people, one being the aforementioned worship leader.   I made the team.

For almost 2 years I had the privilege of being under the tutelage of a great worship team.  I finally learned how to listen for and sing harmony, something I never thought I would do.  But I was getting more frustrated because that’s all I was doing.   On top of my frustration with not being able to have an outlet to lead on my own, my life at work was crumbling, too.   So I took a hiatus from the worship team to focus on work.   After I resigned my position at work, I entertained the idea of going back on the team.   I’m not scared to admit that I may have made a bad choice, but I decided to make the hiatus permanent.  I didn’t feel that I fit the image or the sound they needed or wanted for the team and wasn’t going in the same direction as they were.  That’s okay, too.

So here I am.  I haven’t sang in almost 8 years.  I watch others willingly and confidently post videos of themselves singing and I wonder how or where they get that confidence from?  Aren’t they worried about what people will comment?  Aren’t they worried that no one will like their songs?   But, somehow, they aren’t.  And it irritated me!  Wow, they’re a little OVER-confident and they’re just trying to Justin Bieber their way around.   How shameless.

The truth of the matter is they are doing what I WISH I had the balls to do.  I wish I had the balls to share myself singing.  I wish I wasn’t so self-critical of myself.  That every time that I record myself and hear it back, I automatically think, “I’m so nasal. I sound horrible.  Why do I sound like I have a stuffy nose?!?  No one is going to listen to this. WTF am I thinking?!” and quickly delete it.

I’m tired of living in fear.  Fear of what I think and fear of what others think.  If I’m not good, then I’ll forever be sitting in my kitchen recording myself singing and posting it for some poor schmuck to be nice and say “Aww, that was good!” or never to hear any comments at all.  I’ll take constructive criticism.  I’ll ignore the rude ones.

If I am good, then I’ll sit in my kitchen recording myself singing and posting it for some schmuck to be nice and say “Aww, that was good!” or never to hear any comments at all……..until God says otherwise.

So……here it goes.

I recorded this song an hour ago. It was the song I tried out for the worship team with.  It’s a song I heard from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation 1 Nation Crew album called “In His Grace”.

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Grumpy Old (Wo)Man

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Today marks just one month until I am officially 30.  And I think I spent most of my day complaining about where I live, what I do, and the people around me.

Which makes me sad…….for me.  Because I never envisioned myself turning into this person.  This is not how I want to live the rest of my life.  And what makes me sadder is that I have no idea how to CHANGE this.  Also, it makes me upset that I’m spending most of my time complaining about what my life LACKS when the truth of the matter is, my life is full of so much good that I am supremely blessed beyond measure.

This week the world was rocked with the devastating events in Boston and Texas, as well as around the globe, with deadly earthquakes in Iran and China.  While families deal with the aftermath and try to rebuild their lives from having it shaken to the very core — I am complaining about the fact that I still live in the same state for 27 years or that I have a good job with steady income, and that I’m surrounded by a community of Indians that I’m not too pleased about being around.   God, how petty I am.

If I want to change my life, then nothing is stopping me.  I could change it.  I can always make excuses or say that I don’t take risks because of the fear of the unknown, and although that is halfway true, the other (harsh) reality is that maybe I don’t take a risk because the safe choice is to stay where I am, doing what I’m doing.  It’s a lot easier to complain about life than to actually change it.

It’s true when they say that you get mad at the choices other people make because you’re frustrated with your own life.  Just this morning I was talking about a girl who is my age that is still acting like she was in high school and I kept throwing the word “stunted” around.  The truth of the matter is, in a way, I am stunted as well.

Stunted means to retard the growth or development of.  Here I am, almost 30, and I’ve missed so many opportunities to get out and experience life.  And instead of being proactive, I’m stuck at this place of resentment, where complaining is more comfortable than changing.  We’re all stunted in some ways — some refuse to grow up, I refuse to change.

If that’s the case, then I have no right to complain.  Instead, I should look at my life, be grateful for what I’ve been given so freely and undeservingly, and live my life in gratitude of it.   All while keeping that line of the Serenity Prayer in the back of my head:

God grant me the serenity 
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

The Trapped Rat Conundrum

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I have a couch in my living room that I hate.

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I, honestly, don’t know what was it that made us buy THIS couch. Why did we pick it?  I regret it deeply.  Because it is the worst couch EVER.  It’s not comfortable by any means.  Perhaps, this is our fault, because it was fine when it was in the showroom.   But, as you can see, after our fat butts have sat and sat and SAT in it over the last 4 years, it has lost it’s comfort. (I wish I could blame my dog, but she only weighs 4 pounds, so there goes that theory). There is a lot of wear and tear in it.  Now I wonder will anyone ever want this couch?  How the heck are we going to get rid of it?  Are we going to be stuck with this couch forever?

I equate my life, currently, with how this couch looks.

It’s not comfortable anymore. It’s time to put it out of its misery.  (Don’t freak out! Keep reading!).

I have lived in this state and in this town for the last 27 years.  Guys, I’m turning 30.  You do the math.

I am a teacher in the same district that I went to school at from 1st grade to my senior year.

I am teaching with teachers that taught me.

I am teaching students of people who I graduated with in 2001.

I am surrounded by people who I’ve known far too long that I get irritated by the mere thought of.

I attend a church that served its purpose for me when I first came, but I’ve outgrown it — and now I don’t know what to do or where to go.

I haven’t sang and led worship in almost 9 *NINE* years. (The clothes in my closet and my shampoo bottles, however, have attended many impromptu worship services).

And I’m over it.  Put me out of my misery, please.  I mean, is THIS sick cycle what my life will be forever?  This is what I’ve hoped and dreamed for myself?

I’ve sat and sat and sat here that I’m not comfortable anymore.

If you’re a Cosby show fan, you’ll remember a scene with Sondra and Elvin, after they and their twins had moved in with the Huxtables and were getting frustrated with the lack of space and privacy.  After some frustrating moments between the two families, Elvin claimed that he felt like a “Trapped rat”.  To which Cosby responds with: “If you’re a trapped rat…gnaw your foot off and get out!”

God, I wish it were that easy!

I feel like that trapped rat. But the scary part of this is, I feel like the older I get, the slimmer the chances are that I will be able to get out.   I have this paralyzing fear that I have missed the opportunity to go out and TRY things, or move away from here and experience life.  It’s the worry I have if I give up this couch..that no one will want it.  If I try to gnaw my foot off, then what?   I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got a profession that I can’t just decide to give 2 weeks notice when I’m ready to leave.  Frankly, I’m at that age where my “logical” thinking is my downfall.

I sat at church this morning and I almost fell over thinking that this same time next year, I could be sitting in the same seat, same row, watching the world go by.  I’ll be waking up every day at 5:20, and run through my same predictable routines, drive the same way to work, do my job, stay late, drive back the same way home, sit on the aforementioned couch, do more work….and repeat.

And I just don’t think I can do that.

I cannot go into 2014 doing the same thing anymore.  I just can’t.   God, do you read blogs???  I can’t do it!

Please don’t get me wrong.  I am ETERNALLY grateful for the blessings that I have.  I get to do a job that I wanted to do since I was 6!  I’m a homeowner and rather than get married and bust out children like every other East-Indian girl my age, I get to live my own, independent life.   I count my blessings every day.  My “problems” pale in comparison to what others suffer on the daily.

The problem here is, here is a great opportunity for me to go OUT and do something with my life….and I may have missed the chance. But a part of me still believes that there HAS to be more than this.  There just has to be.

I’ll start gnawing on my foot now.

Add or Subtract

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A big lesson I’ve been learning, especially in the last 6-7 months, is about the quality of friendships.

For most of my life, I’ve looked at my life and considered myself “fulfilled” when I had a LOT of people in my life.  I always looked at the quantity of friends I had, never thinking about the quality of it.   It wasn’t until a season in my life where, literally, my only friend was my sister.  The people I had surrounded myself with had all gone on with their lives, or had found other people to hang out with, so my sister and I (who share lots of mutual friends), were sort of left by the wayside.   Back then it was a hard thing to go through, but now, looking back, I can say that I am glad that it happened.  I don’t think those friends “left” maliciously, it was a part of growing up that we had yet to experience.   Unfortunately, we experienced it all at once, at the same time, and it hit us like a ton of bricks.

After that season of our lives, my sister and I learned to become a lot more meticulous about the people we chose to surround ourselves with.  Although there were people I wish we never encountered, it was necessary for us, because it was just another lesson learned.   But we never prided ourselves on having “LOTS” of friends.  We were just looking for a few GOOD friends.

Now, the lesson I’m learning is, even with a few GOOD friends … are these the people I want to surround myself with?  Are these the people who will be down with me for the long haul?  Do I see myself growing old with them?  Having them over for play dates with our kids or dinner dates?  Are these the people who will come over when something tragic happens?   Are they the ones that will pinch hit for my family and I when we need them?  Are they the ones that will be praying for us and defending us?   I think about that a lot.   Not just what they’ll do for me, but what am I willing to do for THEM?   What makes this harder is that the “friends” I have now are in a completely different season in their lives.  They’re either married, getting married, have kids, pregnant, or dating someone who all of those things will happen with.  I, on the other hand, am not even in the same time zone as those areas of my life.  I feel like I lack anything in common with them now.  I can’t relate to them.  And they can’t relate to me and what I want for myself. So, unfortunately, my questions are going unanswered.

With unanswered questions, comes lots of feeling of being unfulfilled.  I am grateful for the friendships that I’ve made along the way, but a part of me longs for friendships that are challenging, uplifting, and encouraging.  Not that the friends I have weren’t those things — they were — THEN.   But in this exact place in my life, I don’t feel that way anymore.   I find myself asking, every time someone comes into my life, “Is this person adding or subtracting to my life?”   I’ve had too many “friends” who have subtracted from me, too many that I gave my all to, and never reciprocated and I”ve had too many “friends” that never really added anything, even though I convinced myself they did.

So, here I am at 29 and 7 weeks til I’m 30, still looking for my inner circle.

Now taking applications.