In an interview, a famous singer made some self-deprecating remarks about her singing, specifically about having a limited vocal range. She was right about that. Nobody would ever call her a “belter”. She doesn’t hit the highs or the lows like some do, and never finishes her songs with a dazzling note held at length for its dramatic effect, which is how so many pop ballads end. Instead, her voice is warm and relatable, and very expressive in its own way, and with that she’s enjoyed popular success and has fans that have followed her for 30 years.
A lot of us are in the same kind of shoes. Granted, our milieu isn’t at the pinnacle of popular music, and we won’t be on awards shows or win gold statuettes, but we, too, recognize that our skill set doesn’t include the advantages that some others were blessed with. There’s nothing wrong with looking at it that way, unless you let yourself feel cheated and inferior, which many of us do.
Better to adopt the singer’s approach. She can joke about her limits, but I don’t see where she is holding herself back. She writes very personal songs, the kind of songs for which her voice is right, songs that singers with bigger, showier talents just couldn’t make work in the same way. This is a lady who knows how to work what she’s got, and who makes good work of it.
If only we could all do that, and not indulge in that most common of time-wasters – comparing ourselves to others. It’s okay to do that if the comparison gives you a vision of what to work for and if you are realistic with yourself about how close you can come to that goal. The damage comes from trying to be a duplicate of someone else, or when you note the difference, undervalue yourself, and overlook what you bring to the table. That’s usually followed by giving up entirely or putting big limits on yourself.
I wish we could all stop comparing and envying, but of course it’s easier to say that than to do. Given that we can’t eliminate the tendency, though, I think we can at least make it less harmful. One way to do that is to be grateful for what we do have, and look for ways to use our gifts to our best advantage.
Think about it. The singer could kick herself for being gifted differently than other singers. She does better for herself by using her own gifts and developing them as much as she can, and creating the music she is loved for.
That’s really the trick, I think – making the most of what you have. Taking stock of your talents, really knowing what you’ve got and then focusing on getting the most out of them. And if you are going to do that, you have to start at the beginning, and that means really learning to appreciate the unique ways that you are gifted.