Empowering Authenticity: Developing Personal Expression in Musical Theater

Empowering Authenticity: Developing Personal Expression in Musical Theater

Embracing the Power of Vulnerability

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to overlook our accomplishments and fail to celebrate the wins, big or small. In my previous blog post, I emphasized the significance of acknowledging and honoring our successes. Reflecting on that, I realized that one of the most impactful tools I’ve discovered for celebrating my journey, honoring my lessons learned, and practicing gratitude for all of my blessings is through the power of music, particularly the art of songwriting. This is one of the many overarching themes and realizations that led me to explore how music has so greatly affected me during my second TEDx presentation titled “From Pain to Playlist – Turning Struggles into Song,” which I’ll be posting about as soon as it goes live on the TEDx platform. I promise.

However, my second TEDx experience taught me more than just the importance of leaning into the transformative power of music and divine inspiration. Today, I want to delve into my second reflection post-Talk, which revolves around the importance of leading with authentic vulnerability – especially when it comes to the creative process, music, and songwriting.

If you’ve known me or my work for any length of time, you’ll know that I started my career as a street performer. From the age of 10, I would go to my hometown market on Saturday mornings and sing A Capella whilst a local gang would stand around watching me and everyone who gifted me with a dollar or two. It was at that age that I started to learn and understand how authenticity and vulnerability can connect people in remarkable ways. Although we often feel isolated and believe our struggles are unique, we share more similarities with one another than we realize.

By embracing our fears and vulnerabilities, we can deepen our connections and create something truly remarkable. By allowing ourselves to lean into and trust our creative potential and creative abilities, some of the mental and social barriers that we often hold to high esteem can easily be beaten. I would often play a game with myself to see if I could make the most intimidating-looking person smile. Twenty-something years later, I still often put my creative efforts into the same game when I’m performing on stage or at conventions. Yes, it’s vulnerable. Yes, it’s scary. But when we allow ourselves to face our fears, well, that’s when real growth and connection begin.

Confronting the Fear of Failure

I get it. The fear of failure is real – when it comes to anything in life, work, play, creative expression. Even the company we keep. We want to feel like we’re able to keep up with the Joneses. We want to be the one coming up with innovative ideas that trend. We want to be the creative person who inspires a movement and influences a generation. Anything less feels like failure.

When discussing the importance of celebrating wins and embracing authenticity, it is crucial to address the fear of failure that often holds us back. Whether you believe that fear is an illusion to keep us trapped or keep us safe, one thing that is certain is that the fear of failure can be paralyzing. The fear of failure can prevent us from taking risks, pursuing our passions, and fully expressing ourselves. However, it is essential to recognize that failure is not the end but rather a stepping stone on the path to success and personal growth. No child learning to walk falls down for the nth time and decides, “Fuck it – maybe walking just isn’t for me.” No. They fail their way to successfully walking. Every fall – an opportunity to learn, get stronger, and find that inner resilience and tenacity.

Songwriting itself is an excellent example of fostering creativity to embrace failure and using it as a catalyst for growth. The creative process can be filled with moments of self-doubt, writer’s block, and uncertainty. However, every perceived failure presents an opportunity to learn, evolve, and refine our creative ideas and inner genius. The willingness to push through the fear of failure and continue our creative efforts allows us to discover new depths within ourselves and tap into our creative potential.

Embracing Authentic Vulnerability

Moreover, leading with authentic vulnerability requires us to confront the fear of judgment and rejection and actually connect with those around us more powerfully. When we share our stories and expose our true selves to the world, there is always a risk of criticism or disapproval. However, it is important to remember that vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength. It takes courage to be authentic and to let go of the need for external validation. By embracing vulnerability and accepting the possibility of failure, we create a space for growth, connection, and ultimately, success.

Music has an unparalleled ability to touch our hearts and souls. It has the power to uplift, heal, and inspire us. But as I mentioned in this series last week, songwriting, in particular, not only offers a unique avenue for expressing ourselves but also for celebrating our wins. Through the creative process of crafting lyrics and melodies, we can capture our experiences, triumphs, and growth in a way that resonates deeply with others.

When we engage in songwriting to celebrate our wins, we are engaging in a cathartic act of self-expression. The act of putting our experiences into words and melodies helps us reflect on our journey, acknowledge our achievements, and express gratitude for the lessons learned along the way. It’s a personal celebration that connects us to our emotions and allows us to share our stories with the world.

Furthermore, the act of songwriting can be therapeutic – especially with the right guidance and support. It can provide a safe outlet for identifying, simplifying, understanding, and ultimately processing emotions, whether it be joy, pain, or everything in between. By transforming our experiences into lyrics and melodies, we gain a sense of closure and empowerment. We reclaim our narrative and find solace in the fact that our struggles and victories are part of a larger, shared human experience.

The Power of Authentic Vulnerability in Street Performance

During the years that I worked as a street performer, busking outside metro stations from 6:30 am – 10 am every day, I learned some invaluable lessons about human connection and the power of vulnerability. Street performances provide a unique stage where authenticity reigns supreme. Stripped of conventional barriers, street performers have the opportunity to engage with their audience on a profoundly personal level.

I discovered that every morning, before the sun rose, sometimes when I showed up singing my songs, smiling as much as I could genuinely, thanking people for seeing me and, of course, practicing my own ability in truly seeing people, it created a space for genuine connection. Instead of pretending to be all of the things that social media seemingly leads us to want to portray, I let myself be seen in all my imperfections. In doing so, I found that people resonated with my music and felt encouraged to connect in their own way.

I was a full-time street performer for five years, and I tell you, the experience taught me some invaluable lessons, but one of the most significant is that despite our individual struggles, traumas, and ways of expressing ourselves, we are far more alike than we are different. We all want to be seen, acknowledged, validated, and connected. And while busking might not be the most conventional career choice, it certainly gave me a way to connect authentically, be vulnerable, and validate the existence and magic of everyone I came into contact with. Of course, if you’re a fan of Brene Brown or Amanda Palmer, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, but music goes hand in hand with vulnerability. And authentic vulnerability can serve as such a powerful bridge that connects us, enabling others to see themselves in our experiences and fostering empathy and understanding. It’s through this shared vulnerability that we break down the walls that separate us and create deeper, more meaningful connections.

Celebrating Authenticity and Vulnerability in Musical Theater

By leading with authentic vulnerability, we create a safe space for others to do the same. It encourages honesty, openness, and empathy within our relationships. When we allow ourselves to be truly seen and heard, we invite others to join us on this journey of self-discovery and growth. It’s a powerful invitation that can transform not only our own lives but also the lives of those around us.

In a world that often encourages us to wear masks and hide our vulnerabilities, it is crucial to embrace authenticity and celebrate our wins. Through the transformative power of music, particularly songwriting, we can express our experiences and achievements in a way that resonates deeply with ourselves and others. Additionally, by leading with authentic vulnerability, we forge connections and build relationships that are grounded in empathy and understanding.

So, let us celebrate our wins, share our stories through songwriting, and create a world where authenticity and vulnerability are celebrated. If you want to learn more about how and what this looks like for you or your teenager, I’d love to hop on a free discovery call with you to discuss how music and songwriting can help you turn your vulnerability into a superpower and celebrate all of your superpowers with your own theme songs of strength, learning, and growth.

I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Emma G

Musical Theater Center

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