When I see someone else’s talent, it shines, it pours through their skin.
They have no doubt about it. They didn’t talk about it. You just see it: within the look in their eyes.
I actually don’t know what my talent is, but I’ve taken years in my life to figure out what I want and who I am.
- I open myself to the whisper
- I strategically go through with everything I heard from the whisper
- I listen to other, keep it in the back of my head until it makes sense
He said it all.
My whisper is this need to be recognized, but I’m afraid of it… for good reasons.
When I had early wins in programming (which is now my career), I used to help people on the internet.
I was talking down to people and was so full of myself, that they kicked me out.
This one quote resumes my fear, my dark side. I hate to think about it because, not only I become a real jerk, I also don’t notice it.
Hopefully with the years, I learnt to harness it with my naughty side: a mix of the dark side with good intentions. That’s why I love provoking people to make them laugh or react.
So I have a need of recognition and a love of provoking.
Those are incompatible with the fact that I used to speak low and stutter. I don’t want to say that I’m “shy” because this word is overused and loose its meaning.
That’s when the “whisper” came in. Not in my ear, but on my face, as a smile. Few years back, I read about Toast Masters in Laurent Gounelle’s book: “God Travels Always Incognito”. Toast Masters is an international program that you can find anywhere in the world and that helps members to learn public speaking. I found the concept of Toast Masters so cool that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I did it.
Go for it strategically?
At the few Toast Masters events I went, people were so kind that I felt ready to speak, even though I was terribly nervous.
So I stood up and answered publicly to a general question, and it happened… You know that moment when someone is so bad in “<Your Country> Got Talent”, that you have to look away when they perform?
Well, that was the same look away people gave me face to face while I was talking. After that, I ask them to join and they kindly told me to wait and improve a bit more.
The worst part is: there was a woman who attented at the same time as me. I thought she was really bad, but unlike me, she got in… this proves how bad I really was.
THAT was no strategy at all.
I was really down, yet I could still “hear” the whisper and the need to express fully in public (with friends, colleagues or strangers).
6 months after, I randomly saw a free improv class on Meetup. No shame: I went.
I was so comfortable there, people thought it wasn’t my first time. Boy, that felt good!
I took a 6 months class and decided to double down to meet more people and feel more at ease:
- going to amateur improv shows and talking to actors and audience at the end
- going to salsa classes in places that I don’t know anybody
- going out with friends in places we can socialize (beware of friends who just want to chill at home in our 30’s!)
With all of those changes to my life style, I noticed that if I wasn’t at ease, I couldn’t perform. And I wouldn’t have been able to find out this basic truth without experimenting. There’s a difference between knowing and experimenting. It’s like cycling. You can learn on a book that once you can cycle, it’s forever. But when you do it and years later you go back on a bike and it’s like it was yesterday, you can’t explain it. It’s basic, but if you haven’t done it, it won’t ever seem this obvious.
Fast forward 2 years later, during a public improv show where I was on stage : a so called casting agent asked for me at the end of the show. It’s definitely not what I’m looking for, but it feels good to have come so far from being “shy” (I still hate that word).
As a teenager, in the old age of no texting where landlines was king, people mistook my voice for my mum. This used to get me really upset. So until my late 20’s, when someone told me I had a weird voice, I dismissed it.
But I can’t lie to myself forever. On one side, I want to express myself, on the other side, I don’t want to know about the main tool that will get me to do that effectively.
So I started listening people advice and to embrace it.
Facing my voice #1
One day, after an improv show, a guy told me that my voice was like Chris Tucker’s. To this day, I don’t thinks it’s a compliment, but it’s the only comment that got me to understand more than the classic: “You have a weird voice”.
Facing my voice #2
Another day, another setting: at a friend place, while cooking I started singing and my friend told me that I had a nice voice. Wait, what?
Facing my voice #3
Another time again, at karaoké (don’t ask me how I got there), after singing MJ’s “Rock with you”, a friend told me: “There’s something”. That “something” was clearly not enough, because no one applauded in the end…
By compiling those separated events, I thought to myself:
There’s something. Something weird, but worth considering.
So that’s why I’m about to start a podcast, take guitar and singing lessons. It’s definitely not about changing career. It’s more about opening myself to the “whisper” and see where it lands.
One day, I’m sure it will click and you’ll see it in the look in my eyes.