My guitar tutor was an older (ha! He was probably in his mid 20s!) guy with dyed black hair and a beaten up black leather jacket. He was a really nice, supportive teacher. When my frigid fingers strummed a D chord for the first time, he told me I was a natural. It totally made my day and encouraged me to practice constantly. Which only made him praise me more when I went back for my next lesson - I was making good progress, unlike the only other remaining student in my group, a skinny kid called James who didn't seem that interested and he never practised much.
After a few months I was getting along pretty well with my playing. One day in class the tutor asked me if I sang too. I did. I sang a lot. I sang a lot alone in my room so no one could hear me. I sang everything. I harmonised with Fiona Apple and I squawked along with Courtney Love. I also wrote. I wrote lots and lots of poetry and lyrics. But what did I say when my tutor asked me if I sang? I panicked. Terrified that he may ask me to sing to him then and there, my eyes dropped to the floor and I replied "Kinda". A compromise between the shit-scared part of myself and the part deep inside that desperately wanted to break into song right there. But, he didn't give up. He pressed on. "I'm looking for a female grunge vocalist for my new band who can play a little rhythm guitar, would you be interested?"
Now logically, you would assume that I'd have said yes. Here it was: a perfectly amazing opportunity presenting itself in front of me. It was actually everything I wanted in the world (at that point in my life (and even now perhaps) an exciting creative opportunity to make music with a group of people who shared my musical interests and could potentially teach me heaps of stuff. These days I pray for those kinds of opportunities. But what did I say? I said nothing. That's right I didn't even answer with words. I merely and meekly screwed up my face and shyly shook my head no.
My extroverted self has never forgiven my shy introverted self for that. Never. Because now we will never know what could have happened. The potential of it is now left to wander through my mind in a collection of gauzy what-ifs and possibilities late at night when I can't sleep.
A few months later, my tutor left. He got offered another job somewhere else. The new guitar teacher was an older (actually older, like in his 60s) guy who I didn't really mesh with. So slowly but surely I lost interest in playing guitar and instead started doing other "cool" stuff like drinking and kissing boys (face palm).
The most frustrating part was that Skinny James finally found some interest in practising the guitar. He actually found interest in music altogether and went on to get a music scholarship to university. It's funny how things work out.
I wish. I wish I'd not been so freaking shy. I wish I'd pulled out my big Lady-Balls and let them dangle proudly. I wish I had been bold enough to risk looking foolish in exchange for a chance at trying something I could have loved. I wish I had known then how rare it is for life to hand you these opportunities without you having to hunt them down. I wish I'd had the guts to actually chase my dream, instead of letting it remain just a dream.
Now years later, other dreams have come along that I have finally learned how to chase. But interestingly, I am finally singing (and playing guitar - Kinda).
When I turned 30 I decided why the heck not and started getting singing lessons. I did it partly because I wanted to show my boys how important it is to do things that they enjoy even if they are a little scared or intimidated by the idea. I also did it because even at 30, there's still plenty of time to learn new things.
I've performed on stage a few times and loved ever second of it. I've also started writing songs. And now if an opportunity comes along you can bet your ass I'll be slinging out my big Lady Balls and saying a loud resounding "Yes!"