The courage to share with the world…

“Empowerment – the word means different things to different people. For me, the road to empowerment means challenging and overcoming my fear of criticism. Looking back over my younger days, I remember some crucial moments when I let my fear of criticism get the best of me. Literally my BEST evaporated under the stress of fear and humiliation. My younger, less confident formative years were filled with a debilitating fear of criticism. But around the age of 15, I started to find my courage. In our high school, we had a Friday night coffee house set up in the library, for aspiring folk singers like myself to take the stage and entertain the crowd with a couple of songs. For weeks, I practiced the same two songs over and over until I had them down perfectly. Then came the crucial evening. I took the stage and strummed the first two chords – so far, so good. Then I opened my mouth to sing, but nothing came out. I knew the tune but the words were gone, my memory blank, chased away by stage fright. I felt the blood rush into my face. Somebody gasped, someone laughed, then everybody laughed. I was mortified and ran off, vowing to burn the guitar and never try again. But as the weeks went by, the pain and humiliation dulled and the fire to perform returned. I knew in my heart I could do better. I decided to try again. This time, I took a paper copy of the lyrics with me for insurance. This time, I didn’t bother looking at the audience, searching for a friendly face. I just went up there and showed them what I believed in – me. Turns out I didn’t even have to look at the paper. The applause of the crowd after the performance was thunderous, contagious, magical: I had empowered myself and it had been accepted, applauded even. I was hooked. I still play music to this day, because I love it and it makes me feel strong. I’m also careful to be prepared when I go on stage! I think of that sweet’n sour incident whenever doubt creeps into my mind. Even after 50 years, I remember how courage and determination overcame disabling fear and I’m so glad I took the chance and tried again. So, to me empowerment is all about discovering your own special talents and abilities and allowing yourself the courage to share them with the world, without fear. Perhaps you won’t always be accepted and appreciated by others, but if you know in your heart you’ve conquered your fear and put your best foot forward, that is a very empowering feeling that can last a lifetime”


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