There is a young girl in my area who sings.
I say ‘in my area’ because I don’t know where exactly she is. I don’t know who she is, nor what she looks like. All I know is that she sings and that her voice can be heard from her accommodation in to my flat.
Sometimes she sings daily, sometimes weekly.
Sometimes I won’t hear her for a long time and then, reliably, her voice will ring out again for at least an hour on end.
She varies her songs but not much.
This lovely young lady is a Disney fan.
Her voice rings out with “Just Around the Riverbend” often.
It’s freeing, joyous, and loud.
When I hear her sing out her Disney solos I’m reminded of my own younger years.
I too loved to sing, and especially when it came to Disney songs.
The technology back then was not the same as now, but the sentiment behind the voice seems all too familiar.
When I hear her sing I’m transported to my childhood years. I would put on my Disney karaoke VHS, pop on my cassette tape recorder and just sing my little lungs out.
Sometimes I’d sing alone, sometimes I’d sing with my younger cousin (who was more like a brother to me at the time, as we lived together).
We’d sing then, after each song, would stop the VHS, stop the recording and wind it back to listen to ourselves.
Sometimes we sounded dreadful…okay, most of the time…but it didn’t matter.
If our voices cracked or squeaked we’d just laugh with glee, amazed to hear our voices back and caught in the wonder of being part of our Disney favourites.
Then, of course, there were the Eminem and Gorillaz raps, but we don’t mention them.
How wonderful it is to hear this girl sing.
She doesn’t give a single thought to whether or not her noises might be overheard.
She doesn’t worry about judgement, nor inadequacy.
She simply sings, for her own enjoyment. Bold and without the comprehension of fear or self doubt.
Her next ballad is always there.
Just around the riverbend.
Could you imagine if we all held just a little bit more of this girl’s philosophy to life. Or, for that matter, some of our own younger philosophies when it came to self-love, self-care, and self-expression.
When I sang as I child I did so because I enjoyed Disney, I loved the way singing made me feel; I welcomed the emotions that came with my quivering voice. Jubilation, romance, sorrow, fury.
Disney songs cover every single emotion possible, good and bad, and it never felt like the wrong thing to allow myself to experience them either. There was no anxiety around the emotions, nor even necessarily the conscious mindfulness that we’re all told to cultivate nowadays. I simply experienced them, knowing it was okay to do so, because it was all part of the song – all an expression of me and the things my mind conjured up.
Nowadays emotions come with much more apprehension. Adults tend to want to cling to the good and run away from the bad. Our negative coping tactics are many and, god knows, I’ve cycled through a fair few of them. If I were to take one single lesson from a child’s songs – allow yourself to experience a chorus of emotions – then my life would likely be a whole lot better, and that’s just one lesson.
What about the playfulness and daring of singing when we’re young?
It’s often said that children lack awareness of what’s around them and that’s certainly true. Many toddlers have just walked straight in to my leg and children have suddenly stopped dead in my tracks when I’m right behind them, causing me to have to do a sharp halt while they remain blissfully unaware of what their actions just caused. But is this always a bad thing?
In life we have to have a strong sense of self. Sure, other people’s opinions and needs are important – we shouldn’t be self centred to the point of ignorance – but you should never let your thoughts, behaviours, or sense of worth be defined by the validation and opinions of others.
I’m sorry to say that no one in this world will be liked 100% of the time by 100% of the people.
I am not everyone’s cup of tea and neither are you.
So don’t try to be.
Instead, sing your own song and know what it means to you first and foremost. Allow yourself to love and feel completely true to your own vocals and notes. Take breaths when you feel your lungs get short and your head spin. It doesn’t matter if someone else might want a smoother track, or for you to hold a note for longer Your body and wellbeing are your own, so sing in the way that best suits you.
It might not win you a finalist position on the X Factor, but it really doesn’t need to in order to make you happy.
While I’ve never seen this young girl I can’t imagine for a moment that she is scrutinising her outfit, body shape, and movements with every vocalisation either. I certainly wasn’t when I belted out ‘A Whole New World’ (I liked singing Aladdin’s parts, just fyi) and that’s how it should be.
Concern with my physical appearance has taken me to some dark places over the years. Just this week I have wrote on this topic in relation to some of my body parts. But when I sung? Nah. The feeling inside my chest was much more important then what my chest looked like, or any other part of me for that matter.
Again, I’m not saying that presentation is worthless, but make sure that the worth you give it serves you and not some expectations or external notion of what you should be. Feeling good will always trump looking good. No contest.
Perhaps it’s odd to gain so much from the spirited singing of a complete an utter stranger but, as I said, the sentiment behind this young girl’s songs rings true and clear to my own childhood and, if I’m honest, I think it might do so for others too.
If you’ve resonated with this post then please do think back to the activities you did as a child, how they made you feel, and what you might learn from them now.
We are often too critical of our adult selves, but it’s much easier to offer up compassion (and self compassion) when thinking of the child that we once were.