“Am I good enough?” is an Unhelpful Question

moving through fear Apr 04, 2022

An interview with Gayanne Geurin (revised from 2018 post)

When will I be good enough?

This post is for anyone who struggles with the concept of enoughness. When will we ever be good enough? Will we actually know when we’re finally enough? Or will this question actually take us farther away from the person we hope to become?

I interviewed my friend and vocal coach for many years, Gayanne Geurin, to learn more about her journey in “becoming” a singer. I watched Gayanne sing for many years and assumed she had always been solid in her voice, but I was surprised to learn about the mental blocks that Gayanne had to overcome. I wanted to share Gayanne’s story, because it inspires me to persist in the things that I want most, even if the process feels unbearably difficult. 

To start, you should know that Gayanne is a vocal badass. When Gayanne sings with a group, she invites you to co-create the musical experience alongside her, even if she’s the one with the mic. She gathers the spiritual energy from each corner of the room, pulling it together in her hands, then blows it back out through her voice, like a confetti blend of warmth, energy, encouragement, and love.  

 

We all wrestle with self-judgement... we just don't talk about it

It was hard to believe that, like me, Gayanne wrestled with self-judgment around her voice for most of her life. Gayanne explained, “Though I was a soloist in high school, I didn’t feel like a soloist. I ranked the best singers in my head, and I always judged myself as third.”

Gayanne won a Miss Talent competition in High School singing, “God I Hope I Get It” from A Chorus Line, and was told by many that she would end up on Broadway. Looking back, Gayanne notes, “It was such a small view of what it meant to be a singer – this aspiration of being a Broadway star. It didn’t fit how I saw myself, but I didn’t know of other outlets for singing, so I just let it go for a while.”

Years later, Gayanne sang in the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and identified as “just a choral singer.” Gayanne explained, “I didn’t think I had a solo voice. I always wanted to have a big voice, but I didn’t think I had it, and I didn’t have an outlet anyway.” At the time, Gayanne was busy starting a family and building her psychotherapy practice, and ultimately stopped singing. For 17 years.

Seventeen years!? Can you imagine seventeen years of not doing something you love, because you don’t think you’re good enough?

 

What does “enough” even mean?

How does fear of not being enough impact the trajectory of our lives? And what happens to that passion and energy over time when it doesn’t have anywhere to go? 

After many years of pretending the desire wasn’t there, Gayanne started to admit to herself how deeply she wanted to sing. Through a lot of encouragement from a friend, Gayanne found an outlet for singing in our synagogue, Congregation Bet Haverim (CBH). It was a place where singing could be more of an offering instead of a performance, and Gayanne found herself able to try new things without feeling too much risk. Gayanne explained, “I kept saying yes, yes, yes to things and began to break through the limits I had set for myself.”  

 

Know your (self-imposed) limitations

Gayanne’s realization about self-imposed limitations speaks to me, because my fear-brain wants to pull back immediately when I feel stupid or uncomfortable. But if I avoid that discomfort, how am I going to prove to myself that I can get past the limits I set for myself?

Over the years, Gayanne noted a change in how she thought about her voice. As she explained, “Eventually the question of ‘Am I good enough?’ wasn’t the question anymore.” Part of the change in thinking was finding the right space to sing. When at CBH, Gayanne began to ask instead,”How can I use my voice as an instrument of co-creation and connection with others?” For many of us, a change in environment is what we need in order to shift the way we talk to ourselves.

With this focus on how Gayanne could use her gifts rather than on rating them, her self-judgment began to take a back seat. Gayanne shared that one of the greatest compliments she received was, “Your voice resonates with what my heart needs.” 

 

Finding more useful words to talk about yourself

Gayanne talked to me about how this journey has led her to a new understanding of herself. She explains, “Am I a singer? I don’t know. But I am a person who uses her voice to connect with others. That is exciting to me.”

Gayanne is someone who is known for singing from her heart. Yet it’s hard to do anything from your heart if you’re stuck being all judgy in your head. What questions might you need to shift in your head in order to be able to operate from your heart? What impact might that shift have on your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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