Over the past year or two, I’ve struggled with my voice and what I’m going to do about it. Mostly, my frustrations have been about sounding like a twelve-year-old. Around New Year’s, though, I decided for certain that I’m going on T. And while I absolutely believe that that’s the right decision for me, it’s also opened up a whole new set of worries about what will happen with my singing voice.
I’ll be honest: I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t be able to sing the songs I love anymore, that the notes will be out of my range. What if I can’t sing “Defying Gravity” anymore? I adore that song. Above all, though, I’m scared that I won’t be able to sing at all anymore. I’m scared that I’m going to lose something I love dearly.
It’s not that I’ve got an amazing voice. I have no illusions about my voice; I know it’s fairly average. Decent — enough for chorus in high school musicals, enough to make my a cappella group in college when it was just starting — but average. It’s more that I can sing now. I’m not great, and I’m definitely lacking in confidence, but I can sing. Driving down the freeway, I can belt out the words to my favorite songs. I can sing karaoke or Disney with my friends.
I love to sing. I love to sing so much. I don’t like solos; I don’t like performing. But the sheer act of singing — and having my voice come out strong and clear — fills me with joy. I have this fear of opening my mouth to sing, and my voice failing me. I’m scared that I’ll regret the changes to my singing voice, and I don’t want to have any regrets about this.
At the same time, part of me feels as though I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I don’t like the fact that my voice sounds as it does, especially not when I can hear my voice by itself. I nearly had a panic attack recording my senior solo with my a cappella group, the ‘Bellas, because my voice sounded so high and fragile and girl-like. We actually had to stop recording so that I could pull myself together and try not to burst into tears.
The other day, I was watching a video recording of my senior solo (Dar Williams’ “The Christians and the Pagans,” one of my favorite Dar songs) from our final concert. It was an incredibly dysphoric experience. I listened to the May Day version, and the dysphoria was even worse than with our final concert version (probably because — due to the wind and how the microphones were set up — I was louder, and the background vocals were softer, so it was just even more obvious).
It sounded pretty at times, but it didn’t sound like anything I wanted to associate with myself. The same goes for my speaking voice — I can’t listen to myself on any kind of recorder because of how badly I cringe to hear that small, high-pitched voice they say belongs to me. Even just in conversation, my voice can make me wince — especially if I’m nervous or speaking to someone new, I sound like a child.
I’m hoping that the whole singing thing won’t be too much of an issue. I tell myself that I can always do what I do now when it’s too high — take it down an octave (or sing some form of harmony). As it is, unless I’m warmed up and making a serious attempt, I can’t hit that last high “me” in “Defying Gravity.”
I just keep telling myself that it will be okay. No, it will be better than okay. I’m going to have a voice I won’t need to be ashamed of. I’m going to stop sounding like a little girl-child. I’m going to make this voice work for me, regardless how I sound. It’s going to be more than okay: it’s going to be fantastic.