JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Female singers: Being on the receiving end of someone else’s jealousy…

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This post is singing related, but can actually apply to other aspects of life as well.  I felt inspired to write this blog because of very recent non-singing related events in my life that reminded me of some things that I had to deal with as a younger singer.  And it’s something that I’ve heard happen with my students as the years have gone by as well: being the victim of jealousy.

A few years ago, I got a facebook message out of the blue from a girl I had gone to high school with.  It was actually quite touching, as she went on to apologize for the way she had treated me in high school.  She said she had been so jealous of my voice, and instead of just admitting that, she (and her friends) had been mean, cruel, and rude to me.  I don’t remember the other details of the message, but I was glad for it, as she was part of a group of girls that had made it their mission to make my life a living hell – all because they were jealous of me.  So I wanted to take a brief look at something that girls deal with regularly – whether it be related to singing or in other parts of life.  “Mean Girls Phenomena” is the phrase that has been coined for this type of behaviour.

I had always been a very good singer.  Of course, I had to go through years of training to get where I am today, but the natural instrument was always there.  By the time I did get to high school, I was getting regular solos in choir and doing very well in our school’s music program.  But I felt the back lash almost immediately.  There were other girls that were very upset that I was beating them out of the solos that they wanted.  By the time I was a sophomore, things really started to get bad.  These particular girls were a year ahead of me, so it was actually my sophomore and junior year in which I suffered the most.  They would regularly say mean terrible things to me to make me feel bad.  They spread rumors about me all over school.  They even went to the choir director and made up a story that I was going around bragging about my solos and giving them a hard time.  I don’t know all the details of the story that they made up, but it was enough that I actually got called into the office to be talked to about my attitude.  I sat there crying trying to get the director to believe me that I never did such a thing.  There were even more vicious things that happened because of them, but things not to be discussed in public.  (Yup, that bad.)

As a result of their vitriol (mixed with other horrible events I had to deal with at that age), my insecurities went from bad to off the charts.  I had my close group of friends, but outside of them, I was actually quite afraid to talk to people.  Anyone.  And I always was scared of what these girls would do next.  I tried to avoid being anywhere they were at any time in the building.  And the painful comments just made life miserable.

Looking back, it makes me upset that I had to deal with that.  Especially since I never actually did anything to any of them.  I just did my singing thing.  But their jealousy was expressed in a very hurtful way.  They could have just let me be, but there seems to be something in some girls (and women) that turns them into viperous harpies when they see another woman who has something that they want, but they can’t have.

I’ve heard this story from some of my students as well throughout the years.  There always seems to be a few girls who are jealous of the current reigning singer (or singers) in the choir.  Some students just progress quicker than others.  Some are just born with more natural talent.  But there’s always someone waiting, ready to say and do things to bring said singer down.

I was very lucky to not encounter any of this kind of behaviour in college or grad school.  And in fact, in grad school we were constantly coached to always be supportive of our fellow singers.  ALWAYS.  One day your competition might get the part, but your turn might be the next one.  Be supportive of her, and she’ll be supportive of you.  And the group of singers that I went through grad school with all shared that attitude – it was a very nurturing supportive environment.

So it truly bothers me when I hear about this behaviour going on and on.  (And it truly sucks to feel its sting again, even as an adult.)  I think it’s something important enough to be addressed with girls when they are children.  It needs to be reinforced in every child to treat others the way they would like to be treated.  Period.  That’s how I was raised, and it’s just the right thing to do.  Fortunately, some of these mean girls do mature and feel sorry for their evil ways (like the girl who sent me that message), but sadly, some just keep up with the behaviour well into adulthood.  The trick is to rise above it.  Oh yes, it still hurts, but if you are miserable, then they win.  Don’t let the haters win!  Happiness is your best revenge, ladies!

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

4 thoughts on “Female singers: Being on the receiving end of someone else’s jealousy…

  1. Thanks for this. Not only do I remember feeling like this, but it made my daughter feel better about things she is going through now. If you can get through it, so can she!

  2. I feel very pissed off on what happened to you. If you need help, just contact my email or my YouTube: moonlightcomet (moonlight)

  3. I know what you mean! I’m sorry you had this terrible experience in high school. I’m glad one of your former classmates finally owned up to it.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the time, in my experience, the jealousy is so underhanded or subtle that there is no way to counter it or even always see it for what it is. I was singing with my former band about a decade ago at a friend’s party when one (or was it two?) of my female friends disappeared. I didn’t think much of it until days later. A male friend told me later that it offended him that this friend of mine had gone off with her boyfriend to sing to him in the backyard, and it was obvious that she was threatened by my singing and felt she had to draw attention to her own singing. I’ve had female friends (friends!) tell me they “hated” me for my voice, probably half-joking, but still, it makes you uncomfortable, or even nervous or scared. More recently (within the last few years), I’ve had a woman tell me she was glad to know I’d had some vocal training, otherwise, she said, “I’d have to kill myself.” (How am I supposed to react to that?)

    Where on Earth does this come from? If I learned that my female friend was a really good lacrosse player, or a terrific debater, it would never enter my mind to say anything like these things. Does it occur to people that when I sing, I want to enjoy myself, and have listeners enjoy it? It takes hard work to be able to sing well – I wasn’t just born doing this. I also get stage fright – I’m not the most confident of people, despite the fact that others tell me I do look confident. I’ve had much the same struggles in life that others have, and sometimes, I think, more. I definitely don’t consider myself the most fortunate person in the world – there are a lot more people with more going for them than what I have.

    Most important, I don’t sing to impress people or to somehow put myself above anyone else. To me, music is about healing, spirituality, joy, and connection. Music should be the antithesis to jealousy and envy. It should be pleasurable and cathartic. It absolutely appalls me when someone comes away from hearing me sing with unpleasant thoughts or feelings. That is not what music is for.

    I’m glad you found a more supportive environment in your college choir. I regret that my most recent church choir experience was not supportive, and much of it had to do with the choir director, ageism, and favoritism. Many of my choir experiences have not been pleasant. When I earned a gospel solo that I really, really loved in a choir many years ago, some of the older women in the choir who had been in the choir longer complained, demanding that the director let them sing it with me, and he capitulated.

    Unfortunately, envy doesn’t only rest with women. In the rock band I used to be in, the male lead singer was also the sound engineer, and he made sure that my mic was almost always turned way down. I went through practice after practice of not being able to even hear myself sing! How was I supposed to know if I was even on pitch? Eventually, my throat started to hurt a lot, and I had to quit.

    I am happy with the band I am in right now, but to be honest, part of me is always nervously looking for the other shoe to drop. It is experiences like these that made me stop singing, except privately, for a years. Friends would ask me, “Why aren’t you singing?” It caused a great deal of depression in me. Maybe this is one reason why it takes such a thick skin to make it in music, especially as a singer.

    If you have any advice for me, or anyone else who has gone through this, I would love to hear it. Unfortunately, sometimes the people with bad intentions win, and I end up feeling insecure and not confident in my singing, or guilty for doing it. I’m a sensitive person, and I often pay more attention to others’ emotions than to my own. I love to sing, and it’s a personal tragedy to me that anyone would want to diminish it or take it away from me.

    • So sorry you’ve had to go through this kind of thing too! Honestly, the impetus for this initial blog post was when I was going through a situation that had NOTHING to do with singing, but still dealing with the fallout of a jealous person. (But it’s SO similar, really, isn’t it?)
      When it came to my singing, I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve had so much support and NOT much jealousy-related complications for most of my adult life. I belong to some online groups for classical singers where a supportive atmosphere is the norm. (Which is what we were taught in grad school – support your colleagues!) So much of my experience in the singing world is classical related, so I can’t speak as much to other genres, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve more or less encountered a good amount of respect for my talent and my accomplishments. I’m not really sure what the special secret is that lead to that, but I like to think that no matter what I’ve been through in my life, ever since college, I’ve never doubted my singing and my abilities in that way.

      I guess my only advice is to always remember – when people treat you poorly due to jealousy, it is ALL about THEM and NOT YOU. You are never the problem – it’s all them and their own insecurities. They are reacting due to their own issues. Don’t carry the weight of others on your own shoulders. Keep strong, stay positive, and kill them all with kindness!

      Wishing you all the best!

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