Progress is subtle, but ever-present

I’ve been taking voice lessons since the beginning of the year because singing is something I have always wanted to get better at, especially as someone who loves dancing and musical theatre. I’m also learning the ukulele, so often I combine my practice of the two. Tonight, I revisited one of my favorite songs, “She Used to Be Mine,” from the musical Waitress. I’ve learned enough ukulele now that I can play the chords required.

As per usual, I recorded myself singing the song. (And yes, I recorded several takes before my perfectionism was happy enough with one of the later takes. Oops.) Then, I published the video. This was, yes, to share the song with family and friends, but more so to document my progress.

I hadn’t really gone back and listened to too many of my early videos yet since starting voice lessons. I have a hard time playing back any videos of me singing because I am hyper-critical of myself. But “She Used to Be Mine” piqued my curiosity. This is the first song I posted publicly of myself singing, back in February. So, I decided to give it a listen and see if I could hear a difference.

And the difference is shocking. My voice sounds more open, more supported, and less restricted. There is less tension and more ease, especially on high notes. And overall, my confidence is astronomically different. That’s not to say that I don’t still worry about my neighbors hearing me singing and judging me but instead that I don’t care as much if they do. I expected there to be a difference in the sound, but I didn’t expect it to be so noticeable after just five months of voice lessons. I have plenty of room for further growth, but I’ve come so far too. I’m incredibly grateful for my vocal teacher.

I’m also really proud of myself tonight. I was so scared those first few voice lessons to even be heard by the teacher. I am still scared sometimes at lessons. But if I had not practiced singing and risking being heard I would have stayed the same. Instead, because I was willing to be vulnerable, I have improved and grown immensely. I have moved towards my goal of being a better singer. And that is something to be proud of.

This is also a good metaphor for mental health treatment and recovery. Progress can feel so slow we can’t even see it in the day-to-day. But it’s important to not get discouraged my this. Especially with OCD treatment and exposures, I felt like I couldn’t see change while in the midst of it al. But, like with singing, when I looked back several months later, I could do so many things OCD had previously taken from me and with far less compulsions. It’s important to not get caught up looking for the small changes. They are there and happening. I promise. Looking for those immediate changes will only be a distraction from the work at hand. But months later, you may just see leaps and bounds of a difference.

Morgan

the song recorded tonight
the song recorded back in February

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