Always take the time to enjoy what you love doing, no matter what people say. You never know when you might be able to help someone else.
Trying to get over some of the negative judgement people may have about you is not the easiest. Everyone struggles with it at some point or another, and eventually you learn to not let things like that bother you. Furthermore, I can testify to that because it took me a couple of my childhood years to completely stop giving a hoot about what people had to say about how I sang.
I still remember when I first got into singing: I was six-years-old, and coming from a Filipino family it was mandatory to sign up for something that was artistic, be it singing, dancing, or acting. I had seen videos of Lea Salonga singing and I knew I wanted to be like her, so naturally, I chose singing lessons. (Dancing would eventually come later, and as for acting…well, I wasn’t all that interested.)
After about a year of singing lessons, I decided to give my school talent show a try. I’d learned a song called “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” that a number of artists have made popular over the years. (In my world I know The Carpenters as being the band that sung it, but a quick Google search shows there are plenty of artists that have sung the song, including Hank Williams — the guy who actually wrote it.) As auditions were required, I decided to suit up in a kid-sized Stetson and cowboy boots to see if I could nab a spot. The handful of classmates I auditioned for were pretty impressed, but come the day of the talent show, people laughed at me because I was so animated. For the rest of the week, kids would come up to me and say, “wow you sounded good, but you were doing all the actions to the song and you looked really dumb.” That was a big thing for me: if I was going to sing a song, I wasn’t just going to sing it — I was going to perform the whole bloody thing. But the comments from the kids were enough to embarrass me out of performing at the talent shows for a while after that.
I stopped auditioning for talent shows, wasn’t willing to perform to my best when I knew I needed to, and eventually grew to hate singing. I quit lessons completely. A good year or so later, I realized I was sad. I didn’t feel as great as I did when I was singing. It was fun, and I was alright at it. Plus it was a fantastic conversation starter; everyone wanted to know what I was going to sing or how I learned songs…and so on.
In fifth grade, another opportunity came up to sing for an event at our school. It was an afternoon tea event for the seniors in our community, and if students were interested they could sign up to perform and have tea and treats with the seniors. I signed up, telling my friends I was “hoping to get out of class,” but I was really looking forward to singing for people again.
I don’t remember what I sang that day, or what I wore, but I do remember that at the end of it, some of the seniors were cheering and clapping really, really hard. I spotted a woman at one of the tables who was clapping so hard, I thought she was going to fall over. I decided to go over to her and sit with her for the rest of the afternoon. I introduced myself and she did the same, and as we carried on talking she said she was happy to hear me sing and told me I reminded her of her granddaughter, who lived quite far away.
It was such a simple, to-the-point thing to say, but it felt really good to know that I made someone else happy. And sometimes when you do something enough, you can really impact a person’s life. Spend your life enjoying learning karate or kickboxing? Imagine what kind of influence you might have on the next youngster that learns a few moves from you if you were to start teaching a class. Do you like to write? Many non-profit groups are willing to take you on and have you help them write bios and newsletters for them. If you get addicted to knitting, and can’t stop making all those mittens, scarves and blankets, donate them to your local shelter. Doing something for the sake of doing it may inspire someone else in turn. You never know!
Before I sign off, I wanted to leave you with this video of a ballet dancer who is 77-years-young. Not only does she love to dance, but she also teaches classes and travels all over the place, performing for various community and seniors centres.
And yes — it’s totally okay to nerd out on your favourite hobbies. You can share your hobbies with others, and who knows? You might inspire someone to do the same and pass the kindness on!