Injuries and Patience
I recently injured my ribs, or I guess more accurately my intercostal muscles. That’s too long to type though, so I’m just gonna say ribs. It happened from not being patient when I should have been and going to the gym while sick. I’m sure there’s a bigger life lesson to be learned from things like this.
Sometimes the best way to prevent an injury is to know when to quit. It’s always best to rest BEFORE you need it, but that’s easier said than done. There is a lot of pressure in this career to deliver all the time. One of the hardest things to learn is to mark in rehearsal BEFORE it’s an absolute necessity, to say “no” before you have to say “I can’t”. I was sick and I knew I should have taken a break from the gym, but I was impatient. It’s hard to try and stay driven, but also know when to bench yourself. Most people in most careers get paid for sick days or are even encouraged to stay home when sick, to help protect the other employees. That’s not really our game as singers. It’s up to us to say when enough is enough.
People will take, and take, and take from you until you’re used up, then they’ll just move on to the next singer. The sad thing about this career is people often remember the red lights, not the green lights. People often forget all the times you did things well and tend to remember the time you stopped things from running smoothly. That’s life, but we need to be ok with disappointing people a little bit sometimes. In the end, disappointing someone over a rehearsal is a dream compared to ruining an entire production, and deep down our bosses or directors know and appreciate that fact. They know that being a pro is learning the word no. Yes, that rhymed. Yes, I’m going to put it on a shirt.
I do have to say, though, that I don’t want to promote people backing out at the first sign of a tickle. I do think that there is a large portion of singers who are overly cautious with their voices and often overthink the whole thing. There is a certain amount of “just fucking sing it” that is needed in this career, and we do need to show up and be able to do our jobs the vast majority of the time. I’m just saying, we need to be aware of when we’re going over our limits, and take the day off, or cancel the show before we injure ourselves so badly we need to cancel the whole season, or even start to damage our voices or bodies permanently.
A rib injury sucks because I can’t go to the gym or sing at the moment, my two outlets for a release of stress and anxiety. It’s like a big condom over my life. I can still hum a little bit or do very light aerobics at the gym but I’d rather just dive in and experience those things fully like I normally do. The big lesson I’m taking away from all this is to be patient in healing, to listen to the body and to trust when it starts to say “You’re asking a bit too much of me here”. Truth is I knew what I was risking but we take our health for granted when we have it. It seems like something we’re entitled to have until it’s gone. It’s easier to maintain and keep your health than it is to try and get it back. Hopefully next time I’ll listen to my body and look at the big picture instead of giving into ego and instant gratification.