Friday, March 9, 2012
One way to get over your fears is to jump right in and face them head on. Like someone skydiving to get over a fear of heights, I somewhat routinely sang karaoke in college to get over a little stage fright.
If you knew me back in grade school, you probably knew me as the shy, quiet kid that played tennis. I had a lot of friends, and since I lived in Roswell most of my life and went to school with the same people for years, most everybody knew me, but I certainly wouldn’t have called myself “popular”, which was fine with me. I wasn’t interested in a lot of the things everyone else did, and vice versa, so I think that was a big reason why I was so quiet- I didn’t relate to a lot of the kids in school. But, without getting too into the psychiatry of this, I do think there was always some social anxiety involved. I HATED being in the spotlight, speaking in front of the class, presenting projects, etc.
I remember doing a presentation during my senior year… we had to pick something we were interested in and talk about it in front of the class, bringing in props and doing demonstrations. I was really into bass fishing at the time, so I brought in all my fishing gear- rods, reels, lures, even a video. The class was actually pretty interested in it, but since there were kids from other grades in the class and I didn’t know many of them well, I was incredibly nervous. I’ll never forget holding up a fishing lure in front of me and my hand shaking so much that you could hear the rattle inside the bait! <smh>
So when I decided I wanted to be a meteorologist on TV, understandably a lot of people were surprised and skeptical. I don’t think very many people thought I could do it. The thing is, when I am talking about something that I am really interested in, I actually talk so much that it’s annoying (just ask my wife about me and NASCAR!). I knew I’d have to get over some of the nerves I felt speaking to an audience, but I also knew I would have no problem talking about the weather on TV. Like I mentioned in the last post, I actually had to convince my best friend from high school that I was on TV by directing him to my station’s website so he could see my picture.
Late in my senior year of high school, I went with a group of friends on a camping trip to Lake Altoona. We spent a couple days there, and one night while sitting around the campfire I think someone started talking about music, and one of my friends started singing a Tim McGraw song that was mentioned. Being a fan at the time, I joined in. We just sat there singing songs and laughing about it for probably an hour. Someone said they thought I had a decent voice, so naturally I immediately thought I was good enough to someday get a record deal. Seriously, if American Idol had been around back then, I probably would have signed myself up (and subsequently been one of those people they show during the auditions that gets the boot, then walks out the door saying “they’re crazy, I can sing… I can sing, I just need another chance, I’ve just got laryngitis right now!”) That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was a nice boost of self-confidence nonetheless.
When I went off to college at Florida State, I knew NOBODY there. My first friend in town was a fishing guide I met who was married with two kids. Since I wasn’t the most outgoing person, to say the least, I didn’t have a whole lot of friends early on.
Every time I walked through the student union, I would see a sign on the window of the “Club Downunder” advertising karaoke night. I kept thinking, “One of these nights I need to just go in there, sing a song and see what happens… might be a good way to meet people”. So one night I gathered up the courage and went in there, alone of course. After sitting at a table, ordering a Coke and staring at the song list for a while, I picked a song. I think it was one of the sappy Garth Brooks songs… Unanswered Prayers or The Dance, or something like that. I don’t know if I was any good, but I got up on that stage and sang, didn’t get any boos, and when I walked off the stage a group of four girls motioned me over to their table. I don’t know what was more surprising to me… that I actually got up in front of 40-50 people and sang a song, or that a group of girls was telling me to come talk to them! After that night, I wound up singing a lot at a place called Riverfront, a weird combination of country music and dancing on one side of the building connected to another club with loud rap music and a totally different kind of dancing (and crowd). In between was the karaoke room where I sang Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, George Strait among others and even did a horrible rendition of Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive.
Obviously I didn’t quit my day job… I’d like to say that I turned down record contracts because my real passion was in meteorology, but that’s only partly true. But I figured if I could sing sappy country songs to a small crowd and not get kicked out of the place or be accused of singing drunk, surely I could talk about the weather on TV. Even my mom, after hearing that I had gone to a club alone and got up to sing, said she didn’t think I had it in me!