For most of my adult life I’ve worked behind the scenes. I’ve done things with computers, written a lot of code (that you may have, without knowing, directly or indirectly used), and been able to do things like buy a home and start a family along the way. I’m thankful (not often enough) for all that.

I used to see people who could get up in front of a classroom, conference room or sanctuary—or down on the floor with kids for that matter—and think: They’re doing an important job; I wish I could do that, too, but I can’t. Some people are born with charisma, being a “people person,” and I wasn’t. My place was behind a computer screen.

The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera could sing, but thought no one would like him so acted in ways that that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s not the path I want to be on, though I might enjoy singing some Andrew Lloyd Weber music! Photo credit: Greg Willis via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

How I came to limit myself that way is hard to say. It might have been an experience early in my career, a relationship early in life, a random firing of neurons in my brain, or some combination of these.

But, eventually, with a lot of support, I volunteered to teach something. It actually didn’t go so well the first time, but I tried volunteering to teach other things. Sometimes in my professional life as a software engineer, but most often teaching other adults in Jewish education which is a field I had been in but left at the beginning of my career. And I loved it, and got positive feedback, and started building up my confidence. I took an amazing online graduation class in Jewish education. Through it all, I learned I don’t have to be like anyone else and it’s okay to fail sometimes.

And then I remembered: I liked to sing. I liked music. Some of what I’d been doing behind the scenes, behind the computer screen to make a difference in the world related to Jewish liturgy. But the really useful technical skill related to liturgy was not editing it on a computer, but using one’s voice to lead a prayer community. And I could do that; in fact, I used to do that. (Maybe it could even be a good synergy with my skills on the computer?)

I’m Finding My Voice. Where exactly this will go, I’m not sure yet. Thanks for joining me on the journey.

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