When I was in high school, I desperately wanted to join an elite choir group that would perform for the school at the year-end concert.
This was a special group made up of only the best. There were auditions held in the gym,
and I was so sure I would get in because I am an amazing singer. Whenever anyone heard
me sing they would always say, “Wow, I had no idea you had that voice Natalie!” OR
“Holy sh*t, you should sign up for Canadian IDOL!”
I was like, “Yeah yeah, not gonna happen. Thanks so much, but I just love singing. I just do it for fun.” (Secretly loving all this attention).
To make it even more exciting for me, they were going to be performing my FAVOURITE Christmas song in the world, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey.
So, when the opportunity came up to audition for this group, of course, I thought it would be a sure thing. I went down to the audition, and I NAILED it!
My music teacher was Mrs. McLellan. Mr. McLellan (our school’s P.E. jock and Drama teacher) was, obviously, married to the very beautiful-for-her-age and oh-so-professional-and-lovely Mrs. McLellan.
When I went to see if I was going to be in the choir group, Mrs. M pulled me aside and delivered the most disappointing news an overweight teenager (who prides herself on being good at exactly ONE thing) could ever hear:
“I’ve decided not to put you in the group.”
These words rung in disbelief, as it felt like she was jabbing a meat cleaver directly through my heart.
“BUT WHY?” I asked her!
“Because we just had so many great singers, and it was a very difficult decision to make. We had to make our top choices, and you simply weren’t one of them. Sorry, sweetie! Better luck next time!”
I was so baffled. There was nothing wrong with how I sang–I was amazing! It wasn’t just my mom that told me I was a good singer. Everyone did!
With that, I ran to the bathroom in a fit of tears, wondering what I could have possibly done differently to get this opportunity.
It dragged on because up until the Christmas concert, when the “elite” group would rehearse, I wouldn’t get to be a part of that, and every time they were called, I would feel the stab through my heart again.
Then the concert came, and I would have to watch their performance, of which I could not take part.
The girls who were selected were all beautiful and thin and stylish girls, just like in that movie Mean Girls, if you’ve ever seen it.
I got it in my head (which made perfect sense at the time) that I didn’t get picked, not because my singing talents weren’t up to par, but because I was fat. Also maybe because I didn’t dress very well (due to being fat), and I wasn’t popular, and all the other things that stacked up in my head.
So, what did I do? I went to the vending machine to grab another Caramilk bar and eat in the bathroom where no one would see me, wallowing in my own tears.
After this all subsided, I accepted the fact that I wasn’t part of the group, and I had to move on. (Things seem like such a big deal at that point in your life, don’t they?)
Then I started focusing on getting even better at singing. I asked my parents if I could take voice lessons. They agreed, and I started doing what I loved. I sang at church. I sang at school talent shows/ I was recognized, and I was just ‘doing me’ how I wanted to do do it.
After that, I was given opportunities to sing in the school musicals, and I landed roles there, too.
I had to let go of the bitterness and anger I felt.
By shifting my focus on voice lessons, surrounding myself with people who supported me and loved me, I was able to move ahead and see opportunities coming my way. I chose to focus on improving myself (after a while of sobbing in the bathroom, of course), but everyone has to go through it at their own pace.
Have you ever been discriminated against for any reason? Age, gender, height, race? Do you feel like it’s held you back? How did you handle it?
In Work & Life
Natalie ‘not too fat anymore’ Fisher