by Nancy Solari
One of my favorite hobbies and passions has always been karaoke. But as my vision started deteriorating after being diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, I found I could no longer read the lyrics at a distance. I solved this by having the karaoke host at my go-to bar whisper the words to me while I sang, but when I visited other karaoke places, I ran into issues with the DJ or manager being uncomfortable reading the words to me. In my mind, I felt more secure when they assisted me, but the audience often sat there whispering among themselves, confused by my performance.
One night, I was at a bar with my friends and serenading them with the well-known Britney Spears song “…Baby One More Time.” The manager agreed to whisper the lyrics in my ear, but I had to repeatedly lean down to hear her; my body swaying like a pendulum during the performance. Suddenly, a woman got up from her seat, marched towards me, slammed her hand on the stage, and shouted: “You know this song!” Without another word, she disappeared, and I never encountered her again. But I immediately started singing the song without the manager and to my surprise, she was right: I sang the song perfectly. I realized I no longer needed my “karaoke crutch” of having the words read to me in order for me to succeed.
The next day, I was still perplexed by the mystery lady and my triumph in the bar. But it gave me the chance to understand I had become too dependent on others. The interruption of my song allowed me to recognize this and trust my abilities again.
In order for us to grow into being our most authentic selves, we must plant the seeds of the following qualities…
Let disrupters Into Your life
When I performed at karaoke bars, I was content with someone feeding me the words until I was jolted into realizing the truth: I knew the lyrics and was capable of singing on my own. What I needed was someone to assist in my overall personal growth.
We need these people in our lives because there are insecurities we cannot recognize in ourselves. The woman who interrupted me on stage saw the discomfort in my body and gave me the impetus to perform without assistance. Our friends and family do the same for us: They give us guidance and provide opportunities that endow us with confidence.
Believe in Your Abilities
When my vision started worsening, I began leaning on those around me. It was only when I started singing on my own again that I grew more self-reliant. I developed a new habit of listening to the song a few times to learn the melody and practicing for hours before performing. I discovered if I messed up the verses, I could just smile and make them up as went along: I learned how to adapt and become stronger.
To find this self-assurance, I had to examine what I liked about myself. Nobody is perfect, but we have to consider a skill we take pride in and let it be our signature trait. For some, it might be a physical attribute, and for others, it may be intelligence. We can use confidence in this singular feature to build our self-worth in other areas: It becomes like a business card defining us in the best way possible.
Play Only Your Soundtrack
My ability to sing and do karaoke is important because it stems from a time before I lost my sight. The music industry was a career path I went down for a brief period. I was going to music award parties, meeting with presidents of different record labels, and recording my music. As exciting as the industry was, I encountered sexual harassment that made me feel powerless.
One night, I was at an industry party that opened my eyes. I found myself scanning the room and observing new artists who were indulging in drugs. In that moment, I went to the bathroom; tears were running down my face, and I felt adrift in a sea of partiers. I looked in the mirror and told myself: “These are not my people.” I immediately left the party and walked away from the music industry. I found the confidence to step out of that world, and I felt like I gained my soul back.
By confronting what I desired in life and having conviction in my morals, I left behind people I knew would not have assisted my growth. To find our true selves, we need this self-reflection. I found when I journaled or voiced my thoughts into a recorder, I effectively discovered my inner pain. When we examine ourselves through a different prism, we learn what holds us back and can create change in our lives.
The soundtrack to my life is far from complete, as I continue to be challenged by my vision every day. But each time we are confronted with adversity, we must remember our best verses will be about overcoming hardship, and the greatest songs often take years to write. Along the way, when self-confidence meets our authentic selves, we come one step closer to finishing the album to our life.
And that is music to my ears.
Nancy Solari is an inspiring example of living life with a positive mindset, regardless of the challenges you face.
At sixteen, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa: a progressive retinal disease that leads to blindness. Over the years, Nancy experienced significant vision loss, but refused to let this dissuade her from following her dreams. She obtained a BA in broadcasting and psychology from the University of Oregon, worked for Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight, had a successful singing career, and was a top-producing Realtor in Southern California.
Nancy went on to obtain a life coaching degree, and launched Living Full Out in 2008 to help others achieve their goals. An accomplished coach, speaker, and host of the national radio show, Living Full Out with Nancy Solari, she shares her tools for success with audiences and organizations all around the country.