“I’ve always been absolutely terrified every single moment of my life, and I’ve never let it stop me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” –Georgia O’Keeffe
I just got back from one of the most decidedly “unshy” places in the world: Las Vegas. There, I saw my first Chippendales show with my very fun Mom who purchased seats for us right by the stage — and insisted on giving me the stage-side seat. While I ogled at, wooted, and cheered for the incredibly sexy (and talented) men, the last thing I wanted was to be pulled up on stage. I’d been sick with the flu the week before and was still recovering slightly, and the energy in the room was bordering on a bit too intense for me. In short, I was happy to be an audience member, but didn’t want to be part of the show.
After the performance, some of the dancers mingled in the front lounge and my Mom and I were among the few women who stayed to chat up the Chippendales hunks. I said hello to “Smiley,” our made up name for a sandy-blonde-haired performer with a megawatt smile who looked sweet enough to take home to, well, my Mom. Then there was Dmitri, the best dancer in the group, who I came to discover was a piano player like myself and wanted to write his first record. We talked passionately about our musical interests and exchanged words of encouragement to one another. I even shared with him one of my more private and long-held beliefs about myself growing up: that I always felt I wasn’t a performing arts type of artist — more a writer or a visual artist, someone who works alone and behind the scenes — and that’s why it took me until age 25 to find my way to expressing myself through music.
This belief about myself is still true to a degree. I do feel more comfortable observing in a crowd then up on stage. But that hasn’t stopped me from touring, performing, and generally getting far outside my comfort zone for my music project Lady Lazarus.
While shyness, or being more reserved or quiet at times, can certainly be a strong (and perfectly fine/normal) personality trait, it doesn’t have to mean a life sentence of hiding nervously in the corner. To flip the famous Smiths lyric: shyness needn’t stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to. (Sorry, Morrissey.) :)
On our next night in Vegas, I was lucky enough to see one of my favorite modern artists perform — the one and only Lana Del Rey — and seeing her live was incredibly inspiring for me. For anyone unfamiliar with her personality and persona, Lana definitely falls into the category of a shy, somewhat reserved and mysterious artist. She even shared in one of her interviews that when she first began playing live in her late teens, she was so shy that she performed with her back to the audience at the start of each show. And now Lana is filling up massive event centers in cities like Vegas, Austin, Nashville, and all around the world.
Shyness, and all kinds of other roadblocks that we place in our own way, can’t stop us if we don’t let them.
With visions of gyrating Chippendales dancers and Lana Del Rey crooning my favorite songs of hers still fresh in my mind, I’m taking these strange dichotomies with me into 2018 and am recommitting to getting my courage back and playing live again soon.
I won’t let shyness stop me.