Ever struggle with being “too much” in certain settings? Too powerful? Too bold? Too loud? My friend Erin Reynolds reflects on this topic, and shares lessons from her "loudness."
By Erin Reynolds, PhD
”For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies ....” As I sang out loudly, I felt filled with an angelic spirit and my solo wafted to the back of the sanctuary. I impressed myself with a sense of awe for how the tune seemed to be capturing everyone’s spirit. I felt even my sisters were called to a keen sense of wonder. I wished the solo could have continued longer, but it was time for my sisters to join in harmony. It was only then that I saw one sister tapping the stand in front of us and I realized that something was wrong. My celestial solo was unfortunately the wrong piece.
My sisters didn’t know what to do. Should they sing the song I began or stick to the plan referenced in the bulletin? Quickly coming down from the clouds, I stopped singing and pronounced to the congregation, “Well, that is a lovely piece. Now I think we will sing the one that is printed in your bulletin.” And I began to sing the correct song.
This particular experience of leading out loudly was when I was quite young. I often sang with my four other sisters at churches around our city. On this occasion we sang at an evening service in a formal church setting, with little to no room for flexibility.
Sure people in the congregation chuckled. Certainly some couldn’t believe my gaffe. Others saw themselves in my place and wondered what they would have done. But for me it was simply par for the course. A mistake along the way of living life out loud and leading in a way others would follow.
When I was in college I had a roommate who swore she could not sing. I challenged that assumption. I suggested that perhaps she was simply not used to singing. True, her voice was not soothing to the ear … at least my ear, but her voice could go up and down in pitch and it could for the most part acknowledge a tune. When I sang loudly with my roommate, her voice was able to come along with mine and follow my lead.
I find that most adults are relieved when someone sings louder around them. It means they can raise their voices a bit more without a fear of being exposed or judged. I am happy to oblige them by taking the lead.
If my boldness encourages others to be bolder then I say, “Sing on.”
Erin Reynolds earned her doctorate from the University of Denver in Human Communication Studies. She now consults, writes, and speaks about communication topics. She resides in Littleton, Colorado with her husband Bob, and three children. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.