Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved to sing. But for the longest time, I never sang much because I was terribly shy.
I began singing a lot more once I was in college, when I started learning to play the guitar. Somehow having a guitar in hand while I sang in front of others made it less scary.
Growing up, I felt I had some talent for singing, and I had heard as much from my mother and two brothers (both of whom sing).
I used to think I sounded pretty good when I sang in the shower or sang along to songs that would be playing in my house.
Then when I was in my first year of college, I started recording myself singing. When I would listen to the recordings, I would think to myself, oh my God is this how I really sound? This sounds terrible!
I realised there was no real control in my voice, and there were lots of aspects like my pitch and tone that needed a lot of work to at least sound decent.
Coming to grips with how I sounded was disheartening since I loved singing, and I wanted to do it well.
Around this time, I remember coming across a quote that really spoke to me and inspired me to keep at it, and it went something like, “If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing badly.”
I persisted with singing and recording myself over the next two years. Slowly over time, I could see a big improvement in how I sounded, and I eventually even started liking how I sounded in my recordings. Deliberately working on improving my singing taught me a simple but valuable lesson: The more you do something, the better you get.
Now, of course, I don’t believe this is a startling revelation to anyone. But it’s easy to get disheartened when we want to get good at something, but we are only starting to do that thing.
We may compare ourselves to people who have put in years or even decades of hard work, and this may make us feel so discouraged that we may not bother putting in the effort and practice required to get good at that thing.
This insight has also been helpful in my writing. Because when I started out writing articles, even completing a single one was a real struggle, and it seemed like a monumental task.
For the first 6-8 months, it was hard to articulate what I wanted to say satisfactorily, but with practice, it has become a lot easier, and now I feel I’ve gotten a lot better at expressing myself through my writing.
Perhaps there is something you want to make a career out of or something you want to do or get good at. But don’t stop yourself from pursuing something because you may be bad at it at first.
Whether it’s improving your public speaking skills, creating art or making YouTube videos, the good news is that with deliberate practice, you will get better. And you may even surprise yourself with how rapidly you improve when you work on something consistently.
Here is a short clip of me singing Knocking on Heaven's Door, if you’d like to check it out. (the sound quality isn’t great, so I’d recommend using earphones)
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