When I was 16 I suffered from performance anxiety. Incapable of any positive thought in relation to my singing, practise became an emotional ordeal, singing lessons were torture - for me and my teacher - and getting up on stage in front of people was agonising. My nerves were crippling, my self-criticism even more so.
But I was desperate to be an opera singer.
One day someone asked me, “why do you want to do this so much when it makes you so unhappy?” And then it dawned on me.
I have always loved singing. As a child I loved singing Snow White while I brushed my teeth at night. I loved singing carols in the school nativity. I loved pretending to be Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music or Sally Ann Howes in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I loved making up songs and musicals with my brother and sister. I loved singing annoying tunes in the back of my parents’ car on long journeys. I loved singing to myself when I was scared, happy, sad, lonely, excited.
I loved singing, until I decided to learn to sing.
As I worked to conquer my performance anxiety I rediscovered a love for what I do. I learned to have fun on stage. I remembered what inspired an eight-year-old girl to decide that she was going to be an opera singer. That girl was not aware of the challenges ahead: the competition, the emotional demands of the profession, and least of all the small, inconsistent income. That girl loved singing. And it is because of the challenges that the girl was not aware of, that her love was the only reason to sing.