I spoke to two people this week who have been holding onto perceived defects for many years without getting any feedback to change their views. These "defects" have led to great insecurity over time, but fortunately, they called me! And I set them straight.
The first client told me she was self-conscious about her accent. She grew up speaking multiple languages and didn't move to the United States until her teens. It's one of the main things holding her back from getting out there in front of audiences. But guess what: She doesn't have an accent!
At least, her accent is so minor and so insignificant that it will be unnoticeable to 99% of people who hear her speak. And to that remaining 1% (like me, who have a really good ear for accents), they might think she's a typical southern California native who grew up speaking English, but maybe had Spanish-speaking parents.
I never would have guessed that she grew up speaking three Asian languages in addition to English and I never would have guessed that she wasn't born here. Her accent is minimal, her grasp of English is perfect, and this is absolutely a non-issue.
When I told her this, the relief she expressed was phenomenal. She's never gotten feedback on her voice and had built up this terrible lack of confidence and self-consciousness about her accent. I realize her self-consciousness won't go away overnight, but this is the first time anyone has told her that her accent is nonexistent.
I also spoke to a man this week who thinks he has a terrible speaking voice because -- 40 years ago -- a vocal coach in college told him he did.
Wow. Can you imagine (I bet you can...) carrying around something like this for 40 years? Thinking you have a terrible voice because one person so long ago gave you this feedback?
Again, I set him straight. He doesn't have a terrible speaking voice in any way, shape or form. Yes, he can probably improve his speaking voice, like most of us can if we're going to spend a lot of time on stage. But "can improve" is a long way from "terrible."
Are you carrying around some deep-seated insecurity about your voice, your appearance, your abilities, your mannerisms or something else that's holding you back from the stage? And if so, have you actually gotten feedback on this perceived imperfection, or are you perhaps blowing it out of proportion because someone told you a long time ago that this was something "wrong" with you and it's gotten bigger and uglier over time?
Get feedback from a neutral party. Find out if it's all in your head. Because in order to move forward you have to determine if this is something that's even a problem. If it is, then by all means make the effort to fix it. But if it's not, wouldn't you rather just let it go?