When I could walk, I had no problem making a fool of myself in front of other people. Dancing at weddings to ridiculous songs, singing of top of my lungs at friends’ birthday parties, but now that I use a wheelchair? I’m ashamed to say I don’t have the same cajones.
I hate how being in a wheelchair can make you super self-conscious. And despite all the confidence I’ve accumulated, learning how to be a strong woman in a wheelchair when it comes to performing in public? I just can’t do it (and I grew up loving to dance and sing for people).
When I see Ali Stroker, a Broadway actress and paraplegic, all I can of think of is, “How in the heck does she do it? How does she go out there, in her wheelchair, and perform?” Granted, her injury happened when she was a toddler so she doesn’t know any different. I just wish I could have that same perspective some days. Remembering what it’s like to be an able-bodied performer, and then trying to do the same performing in a wheelchair, is so not easy.
And what about karaoke? The other day I ran into an old high school friend, who asked me to go out to do karaoke with him. I told him, “In another life I would’ve loved karaoke, but not in this wheelchair” (and even if I was a karaoke addict, most karaoke stages are stalwarts of inaccessibility.
He looked at me, and gave me a sad look. I felt bad, but I just can’t get over people looking, staring and wondering my back-story (and putting yourself up in front of people as a performer is a surefire way to make this happen).
There was however this ONE time I did try karaoke a few years ago. It was a girls night out, and I sang one of the few songs in my key – Lisa Loeb’s “Stay.“ Two minutes into it, I was out of breath, but I tried my best to finish it out (and sorta did).
After I was done, two middle aged men at the bar sent me a drink (a pity drink? A you-totally-botched-that-song but we like you anyways drink? A hey-you‘re-a-hot-girl-in-a-wheelchair drink?). I took the drink, but ug….so not pleased.
I couldn’t get what people were thinking out of my head the entire time, I wasn’t able to sing like I used to (stupid lowered lung capacity). This was supposed to be fun? Oh man, karaoke had become a fun sponge.
Disabled and love karaoke? How do you do get over your nerves?