I remember getting the phone call from my good friend Sally Fingerett, one of the founding members of The Four Bitchin’ Babes. It was 1999 and I was sitting at my desk looking out my front window as I talked to her. The Babes were coming to Tennessee and they needed someone to fill in for one of the girls at one of their shows. And they were asking ME.
It was all a little surreal. I mean, The Four Bitchin’ Babes was the group I used to wait in line for at The Birchmere to make sure I got the best seats in the audience. This was a group I looked up to. The group I used to get autographs from. And they were asking me to play on stage with them?
Wow. I was thrilled! I was flattered! I was … wait … oh, shit! … I was terrified!
The doubting, critical voices in my head started mocking me. I wasn’t ready. I hardly ever played on stage by myself. Fett was my guitar-playing safety net. And I liked it that way. But for this gig, I’d have to play my songs by myself. No one else but me. On a stage. In front of hundreds of people. And I was definitely not ready for that.
So, without giving it a second thought, I said “sure! I’d love to!”
Then, I hung up the phone and freaked out.
Now, I’d love to tell you that I went on to do the gig and totally blew everyone away! That I received multiple standing ovations. And that throngs of people were clamoring to buy my CD and get my autographs at the end of the night.
Yeah, well. Not so much.
Here’s what really happened: I did the gig.
I stood on stage and played my songs. I wasn’t fabulous. But I didn’t suck either. It was hard. I was nervous. I was insecure. But I was determined to not let my inner critic win.
I did it. And that was enough. Because in this one evening—with this one gig—I proved to myself that I could.
And when it was over, I went back to my hotel room and bawled my eyes out. Not because I was sad or disappointed in my performance. I cried out of relief! And I think out of stubborn defiance. You know, like my inner child sticking her tongue out at my inner critic and saying “so there!”
I did it. And because I did, my music career changed. Not overnight. And not all at once. But a couple of years later, I was asked to do another substitute gig with The Babes. And then again several months after that. Eventually, I became the “permanent sub” Babe. And I “officially” joined the group as a legitimate member at the end of 2004 and performed with them for the next eight years.
All of this happened because in that one moment when Sally asked me—regardless of the fear I was feeling or how inadequate I felt—I said “yes!”
That was a pivotal moment in my career. That one decision changed my trajectory and it was a valuable lesson that I never forgot.
But here’s the thing… YOU don’t have to wait for someone else to ask you a question or make you an offer. You can create these pivotal moments yourself by asking your own questions and acting on them.
What are you avoiding or resisting in your own music career? Take a deep breath and do that now.
What are you afraid of doing? Acknowledge your fears and insecurities, but go on in spite of them.
What do you think you’re “not ready” for? Do it anyway.
Your success or failure is almost never about a single moment. Trust me, my career wasn’t made or broken by my average performance at that first Babe’s gig.
But one moment can make a world of difference toward your success. It can alter your path. It can open new doors. It can show you things about yourself that you didn’t know were there. It can even change your idea of what success looks like.
The key is that YOU have to make the first step. Take a chance on yourself and simply say “yes!”
Well said Nancy!
Thank you Nancy for your article. I am also a singer songwriter. I played with a band for my entire life when we moved to an area where I literally knew no one. So I went to open mic nights and played by myself. I never experienced stage fright in my life but I was TERRIFIED. But I did it anyway. Every time I found a new open mic night I played it at least twice. Soon I was playing solo gigs for 2-3 hours. Those were even more terrifying but like you I said yes. I was used to doing my own material but now I had to learn hours of music that wasn’t mine and play it alone! I did it. Long story short, I have been asked to join a touring band from my area. 40 dates so far! All because I scared the crap outta myself. And were will do some of my songs! So I relate and appreciate your story. Keep on keepin on.
What a great story, Cynthia! Thanks for sharing that. Yes, it’s really different playing by yourself than with a band, huh? Congrats on getting the gig with the touring band. You MADE that happen! 🙂
That’s a great story. Years back, I can recall a few times where I passed on an opportunity, usually because of haste or negative self-talk emanating from those voices that come from wrong beliefs about myself. Like Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, either way you’re right.” As time went on and I “learned better,” I found myself pulled into positive outcomes just by virtue of being there and being prepared just enough. One thing leads to the other.
Hey Johnny! It’s amazing how we ALL have those negative voices…yet we think we’re the only ones! You have obviously “learned better” and have had some awesome experiences because of it. Thanks for sharing! 🙂