I have to make a confession that may (or may not) startle some: for the last few years I have been a bit of a cynic about women. Now I know you might say:
"Um, Summer...you're a woman..."
"Summer, you're a lesbian..."
"Summer, you like women, date women, and was even married to one..."
Well you would be right to all of the above. The latter one, however, might be what contributed to my cynicism of the following:
Except you Tina...never you...
All of my cynicism of the above was recently challenged when I joined the Seattle Women's Chorus.
I'll admit, from the start, I was terrified. Terrified of auditioning, of rejection; even terrifed of being accepted. Just terrified in general; but I knew something needed to change, and jumping outside my comfortable "never try, never fail" ideology was a start.
I honestly thought I did not do well in my audition for the Chorus. I cannot read music, I was very nervous, and I was seriously wearing way too much make-up. Really. (see: Dallas) I was also at the absolute rock-bottom of my depression from being unemployed, so my self-confidence was somewhere at the bottom of a well. The following day I had a job interview, and after having a sad pity-party lunch with my (amazing) friend Pam, I got a phone call that went a little like this:
Chorus person: Hi, is this Summer? This is mmphhmm (sorry, I can't remember the name!) from the Seattle Women's Chorus.
Me: (preparing my rejection with dignity voice) Oh...hello mmphhmm...
Chorus person: Well I just wanted to call and tell you...welcome to the Chorus.
Me: WHAT??? AAAAHHHH!!!! WHAT??? REALLY??? WHAT?? REALLY???
This was me in my head.
That went on for a little while. I don't think that person on the other end of the phone really understood what kind of impact their call was going to make that day. After six months of unemployment, endless interviews and job rejections, I really needed a win, and I got one. Finally.
After the elation of my acception into the chorus came a sudden onset of fear: I'm going to be in a room with up to 200 women. Women terrify me. Women are judgemental. Women are mean. Women say nasty things about each other and make new people feel like the elephant man. I was not looking forward to my first rehearsal.
Well, clearly I have been hanging out with the wrong women. I walked into rehearsal only to be greeted by 200 smiling faces and my Big Sister (Shannon, holla girl!). During rehearsal I was welcomed with applause, women introduced themselves to me, and I left feeling...weird. No way this could last. First rehearsal they're nice and after that, they'll give up on me. Weird thing: they never did.
Fast forward to the Chorus retreat at the end of January. I had a touch of social anxiety; staying in a hotel, far away from home, where I can't disappear into my laptop when social interaction gets too hard.
You know how some people have an animal spirit? This is mine.
Opening night was extremely fun. Rehearsal, karaoke, and drinks; but it was the next day really took me by surprise.
After a full day of rehearsal we got ready for an evening of festivities: first an awards banquet, followed by a talent show and dancing. The awards banquet is what really changed how I viewed these women. It wasn't best voice, or prettiest, or even Miss Congeniality: women who make a significant contribution either through volunteering in the chorus, or the community, were recognized. There was so much love being passed around. There wasn't a diva in the room. Nobody was saying "I should have won" or "I could have done it better". There was just mutual respect and admiration, and in that moment I realized I really wanted to know all of these women.
The rest of the evening was filled with a fantastic talent show, vodka, and dancing. I had another "A-ha moment" (thanks Oprah) while I was dancing. I should preface this with the fact that I am not a good dancer. I went to the Elaine Benes school of dancing.
Yeah...it's a little something like that...
What was really great about dancing with these women, is that I never felt judged. I was surrounded by women of all ages, from all walks of life, wiggling to I'm Sexy and I Know It. In that moment I felt more at ease with being myself than I have in years.
After going on retreat, attending several rehearsals, and singing in three phenomenal concerts with the women of the Seattle Women's Chorus, I have gotten to know so many exceptional women. These ladies are not only musically talented, but they are smart, driven, caring, hilarious, and fiercely devoted to their community. If I had arms big enough I would wrap them around all 200+ of them and give them a hug, and thank them for letting me sing with them; because when I do, my heart radiates with joy.
So there you have it. Women, especially the right women, are freaking awesome.