The sound of your voice

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“So, are you going to sing for your classroom talent show tomorrow?”

“No. I stink!”

Now this is coming from the same 9 year old girl who only weeks ago asked me whether she should pursue a singing career a la Jackie Evancho and focus on opera, or become a pop star like Taylor Swift. She vacillated between these two options as flippantly as one would deliberate between salad dressings. Should I go with the Ranch or Italian? Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. Decisions, decisions…

Why the sudden drop in confidence?

“You don’t stink at all. In fact, you have a beautiful voice,” I assured her.

“No. I don’t. I can prove it. I recorded myself on your iPhone so I could hear what I sound like to other people, and…and…this is what I heard. Just listen!” She sobbed as she thrust the gadget into my lap.

It happens to everyone sooner or later. Why does everyone hate the sound of their own voice? I know I do. How is it we can sound and look so different in our own heads, and then be genuinely shocked when we see footage or hear recordings of ourselves? It’s a phenomena I don’t completely understand. I chat and visit and hum tunes all day long with a smile on my face, but tap “record” and suddenly my voice sounds worse than a kitten clinging to a chalkboard. How can that be?

I know my “smoke and mirrors” outfits (that what I call maternity wear) look descent enough, even attractive in my poorly lit half bath, then when I catch my reflection in a store window come mid-afternoon, I’m horrified! Why’d I leave the house? Same goes for my hair. Bangs start off the day looking great. Then by kindergarten drop off, something has gone terribly awry.

Getting vacation photos back? Don’t even get me started. Wow, I thought I looked really different in that swimsuit. And during that entire hike I was sure my salty, sun-kissed locks looked just like J-Lo’s. Not like that! And people said I was glowing, but I know blotchy when I see it.

So how do I convey to my daughter, that although voices don’t sound exactly like they do when they travel through our own jaw bones directly into our inner ear canals, and our carefully coiffed cuts always look way different from the back, and that even though make-up manages to disappear by dinner and not every photograph in life will be flattering, that doesn’t mean we stop smiling for the camera. 

We don’t stop talking, teaching, or trying-out, comforting, cavorting or crying out, we don’t stop singing, slurping or sliding into swimsuits just because of some “play back” button. Otherwise we’d never ask any questions, or enjoy being in the choir or learn how to surf a wave. 

She has a beautiful soprano voice. People have privately told me how I should really look into voice lessons for her. I’ve told her all of this, but it’s hard for her to put stock into it since I’m her mother. 

 “Okay, if that’s how you really feel, then never sing, speak or even whisper again, if your voice is so unpleasantly different to you.”

 “Great idea,” she retorted.

 And that’s when I turned on some music. Her favorite soundtrack. She lasted about 10 seconds. 

 Ah, so good to hear your voice.

 

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