a blog written by Jennifer Lynn
I remember the first time I recorded myself singing years ago. It was just me and my guitar and my voice recorded onto my laptop. Nothing fancy. I was trying to get the courage to share my songs for the first time. After I had recorded the song, I listened to the recording and remember thinking, that’s what I sound like?? It was the first time I had really sat down and listened to the sound of my own voice. Sufficed to say, I was underwhelmed. The sound of my voice when I am singing seemed different to what I sounded like on a recording.
I had a similar experience the first time I got a good pair of in-ears for singing on stage. Up until that point I had just been using regular iphone earphones. It allowed me to hear myself sing a bit more while I was on stage even though I could still hear all the background noises. iphone earphones are meant for listening to music, not for playing or singing with a full band. But it was all I had at the time. The day I got my first pair of proper in-ears, it made all the difference in the world. It was like night and day. My in-ears completely drowned out every background noise so that I could only hear what I wanted to hear, including my own voice. I had the same thought as before, that’s what I sound like?? It actually took me a couple of weeks to get really used to them. I remember feeling really frustrated the first time I sang with them in because it was so different than what I was used to. I had to start from scratch when it came to what I wanted my mix to sound like. Everything was so clear. Years later though, I can’t imagine not using them. I’m so grateful.
The one thing that, as a singer, I need to hear more than anything is the sound of my own voice. If I can’t hear myself, I won’t be able to do my best. There have been moments where, for whatever reason, I have a hard time hearing myself clearly over the rest. Especially if I am singing in my lower register. Then my voice can kind of get lost in everything because it’s not projecting very loud. At that point, I have to rely on memory. Knowing that I’ve sang the song so many times that my vocal chords just automatically know where to go and what to do. Although I hate when that happens. I don’t feel like I’m doing my best at that point.
I’m naturally very hard on myself, especially when it comes to the sound of my own voice. The first time I was sent a recording of me singing with a full band I was only able to stomach about 5 seconds of it before turning it off. I haven’t listened since. All I can hear are flaws, real or perceived. Other people seem to like when I sing, which I am extremely thankful for and I love that my songs are able to help or encourage others, but I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy the sound of my own voice. Perhaps that could be a good thing. I won’t ever have to worry about developing an ego around it.
I might not enjoy listening to the sound of my own voice while I’m singing, but when it comes to self criticism, I’m all ears. I’m not just hard on myself musically, I’m hard on myself, period. From my looks, decisions I’ve made, to even questioning recently whether I was a good mom. And everything in between. I know what God says about me (that’s a whole other blog post!) but a lot of times I find that my own inner voice can be so much louder. Even if I know that what I’m hearing is a flat out lie. When you hear something for so long, over and over again, it’s hard to ignore.
If you’ve been following along with my journey of what I’ve gone through over the last almost 2 years, then you know it has been a case study in choosing which voice to listen to. The toll that it has all taken on me, especially mentally and emotionally has been nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Complete with panic attacks, depression, anxiety and so much self criticism. Doubting everything that I am and every choice I’ve ever made.
I remember sitting in a meeting with one of the lawyers in my case and breaking down about five times in one hour. I’m talking the full out ugly cry. I had been told some pretty horrible things that made me question my worth as a mother. I was starting to believe it. I had sacrificed so much for my children and now after hearing the same criticism and being rejected over and over again, I was constantly feeling like I didn’t do a good enough job. I felt like a loser. The children’s lawyer started to tear up himself and had to reassure me over and over again with the same thing. “Jen, you’re not a bad mother. You’re an excellent mother. Perhaps a bit over protective but I can tell you love your kids. You raised these kids, took them to church, taught them good things. That stuff is still in there. You’re not a bad mother.”
It’s something I’ve had to reiterate to myself over and over again. Choosing which voice to listen to. My parents, my family, my close friends have all taken the effort to speak life into me through this entire ordeal. To remind me of the truth in the midst of all the criticism. But even with people in my life trying to encourage me with the truth, it is still my decision whether I choose to listen or not. The voice of truth or the lies. Words of life or words of death.
The same struggle has been in every area of my life pretty much. Even with my music. I remember so many times writing my songs on my couch, criticizing myself thinking, “Why do I even bother? No one is ever going to hear this. What’s the point?” But now, people are hearing them. They’re listening to what I have to say. The songs I have written are encouraging others. I believed a lie for so long but God knew the truth all along. That one day I would have something to say.
There are so many voices out there that are simply there to criticize or destroy. But there are also voices that are there to encourage and offer hope. Both are there. Both are trying to be heard. It’s up to us to make the conscious effort to decide which one to listen to. Life or death. Hopeless or hope filled. No one else can make the choice for us. It’s up to you and me.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30:19)