Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez
The day I decided to leave my fulltime job and pursue my career as a singer, was a decision that fell on me. I had been trying to balance my work and career life for years, but my work life seemed to always win. Over the years there have been many opportunities I have passed up because my work schedule didn’t permit or because of fear. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be singer.
Unlike most people I didn’t discover my singing voice until I was fifteen years old when I was encouraged by our church choir director Mrs. Lisa to sing Whitney Houston’s “I Love the Lord” for our Christmas concert. Nervous out of my mind about singing a solo in front of the church, I quickly declined. That evening at dinner my dad asked me and my little sister Chanel how choir rehearsal went. Chanel couldn’t wait to tell my parents that I declined singing a solo for the Christmas Concert. After my sister’s response, my parents turned their attention to me to hear my explanation. I nonchalantly said, “I don’t feel like singing a solo for the Christmas Concert”. My parents were never the type to pry at my sister and I personal decision making. If I told them I didn’t feel like singing then I didn’t have to sing, end of story.
That night after dinner I was sitting in my room reading a book and my dad knocks on the door. My father was a man who believed in everyone living life to the fullest and would always encourage myself and Chanel to walk in our purpose. When he entered my room, I knew he was coming to talk about the solo. He came in, sat at the end of my bed and asked, “why don’t you really want to do the solo?” To avoid the question, I said “dad, we both know no one is going to show up to the Christmas Concert”. He said “Lauren, I’m serious”. I took a deep breath and said “because I’m scared, and you know how I get in front of an audience when I speak. My voice starts shaking and I forget the words. What if that happens while I’m singing? Then I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole church” He responded, “The question you should be asking yourself is, are you doing this for people or to praise God?” He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead, told me goodnight and left the room.
That night I had a dream of me standing in front of the church at the Christmas Concert singing and everyone was in the audience singing along. I could even see that my parents were in the front row smiling. That following Wednesday night at choir rehearsal, I informed Mrs. Lisa that I wanted to sing the solo. She replied by saying “Praise God!”. Since it was my first solo Mrs. Lisa wanted to schedule a private rehearsal to help me get comfortable with the song. During rehearsal she would repeatedly say to me “Lauren find your own voice”. At the time my fifteen-year-old mind had no clue what that meant. We rehearsed up to the day before the concert. After our final rehearsal Mrs. Lisa said “Lauren, I am so proud of you. Just remember that tomorrow when you’re on that stage singing, its less about you and more about how God will work through you. Remember to sing from the heart and the rest will follow”.
She was right. I was nervous all the way up until the moment my feet stepped on that stage. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and every nervous feeling I had in my body melted away. The music came on, I opened my eyes and looked out at the audience. The first people I see are my parents sitting in the front row smiling. I smiled back at them, took another deep breath and started singing. That was the first time in my life I felt pure joy and by the end of the song everyone in the audience was on their feet clapping. When I exited off the stage, Chanel ran to me crying and gave me a big hugged. After the concert everyone kept telling me I did a good job and that I had a beautiful voice. From that moment I knew my purpose was to sing.
Fast forward 10 years, I’m 25 years old working as a Restaurant Manager, a position I never thought I would be in. Then it happened, I received the opportunity to audition for a role in a Broadway Musical. The only issue is the audition was happening during my work shift. That morning when I got the news, I called the other managers to see if someone would cover my shift the following day so I could attend the audition. Sadly no one would. I remember calling my sister Chanel and asking her what I should do. She gave me the response my dad would have given if he was still living. “Walk in your purpose”. That advise was great and all but walking in my purpose wasn’t paying my bills yet. Out of fear I ignored my sisters advise and told my agent I couldn’t make the audition. That night when I went to bed, I had a dream of me performing on Broadway. As I’m singing, I look into the audience, I see my sister, my mom, and my dad sitting in the front row smiling. At the end of the dream my dad said “Baby girl I’m so proud of you. You decided to walk in your purpose after all”. I remember waking up out of the dream crying. I had let my dad down and most importantly I had let that 15-year-old girl inside of me down.
After moments of crying, I picked up my phone and emailed my agent to tell her I will be attending the audition. When I woke up the next day. My agent had replied to my email, it said that opportunity is no longer on the table. We will reach out if any other opportunities come up this week. I replied to the email with a simple thanks. After that, I made the decision to always walk in my purpose. I sat down and made a plan. My mother would always say “Fear stems from the unknown. Once you accept the unknown, fear will no longer control the narrative.” Although I didn’t know if my plan would work or not, I knew for sure that I wasn’t going to allow fear to continue to control the narrative of my life.
That night I went to work. I worked my whole shift and at the end of the night I placed my keys and resignation letter on the owner’s desk. I walked out the restaurant and never looked back. Have I experienced some bumps in the road? Yes, but I stayed the course and kept fear in my rear view. Since leaving the restaurant I have received so many singing opportunities. Honestly, it’s like God was just waiting for me to take steps towards walking in my purpose and I’m glad I did.