Better Than The Best You Thought You Could Be
By SRUTHI RAVINDRAN
It is 2008 and in the heart of Kochi is an auditorium filled with music enthusiasts which include young students, teachers and passersby. All who have come to either cheer the super performers or to boo the singers who don’t stand a chance! Couple that with favouritism, jealousy and angst to take home trophies. A room filled with a rush of adrenaline. Not an easy place to be.
This is a story of the ’20 year old me’ who won the ‘Best Female Vocalist’ at the Kerala Youth Festival. Every year top talent from all the colleges in the district come together to showcase their talent and to take home the most coveted award in the state. I signed up for the Western Vocal Solo and the best singers from 35 different colleges in the district battled it out.
But this story is not about the competition. But just seemingly small things that went behind the scenes.
A wellwisher: “Hey Sruthi. Look at those girls from …. college.” (Pointing out at a group of singers from a college that has always taken the Best Vocalist trophy for maybe the last 30-40 years!”)
Me: “So what? But I can sing. And I’m going to win this year!
I had forgotten about this seemingly insignificant dialogue until today.
When my turn came to hit the stage, I’m sure I had butterflies in my stomach. But I looked calmer than the calmest flower! I belted out a Mariah Carey ballad I had rehearsed for over two months. The song showcased my vocal range – both lowest and highest register. But there were certain notes that were way too high for to me to sing in my original voice and I had always belted it out in my false voice.
But then a miracle happened. I hit those big notes in my original voice in full power and vibrato! I couldn’t believe it. I had never done it. Not even during my best rehearsals! Maybe the cheering crowd and all the excitement boosted my physical and emotional energy.
This is a big deal. It’s as if an athlete who’s average time for running a track was always between 1:45 min – 1:55 min during practice sessions and then suddenly comes down to 1:15 min on the day of the race. Singing is a physical ability.
I tried to reflect on what may have happened. Perhaps it was all the positive self-talk behind the stage. The fact that I didn’t say that I was ‘nervous’ – but that I was ‘excited’. Physiologically speaking our bodies experience the same sensations during both the nervous and excited state.
Sure there were people from colleges who won for three decades. But I choose to focus on myself and the goal rather than get carried away or get intimidated by others for no reason. And that helped me to bring out my best. And decades later, I realize today that I was “better than the best I thought I could be.”
Well that was a singing competition. But I’m sure we can all relate to instances in our careers, relationships and our lives where we perform beyond our amazement.
Have you had an instance were you performed far beyond your expectations? What inspired you or what strategy did you use to win? I would love to hear your story. Comment below.