If you were waiting for someone to give you permission to fail, this is it.
If you were waiting for someone to tell you it’s okay to suck, this is it.
If you were waiting for someone to promise that they’ll cheer you on regardless, this is it.
This isn’t a talent show.
An open mic night is an opportunity to stand up and take a risk—to share your art, your voice, your heart out loud.
If you were waiting for someone to give you permission to screw up, to be terrible, to fail—that’s happening right now.
So please, take the risk. Be bold.
I’ll be there cheering you on.
“It’s time to be bold, stand up, and share your art out loud.”
Thus read the event description for the open mic night I just organized. Out Loud (En Voz Alta) was (and hopefully will continue to be) an opportunity for artists, performers, and secret creatives to take risks and share their art—out loud.
Here’s the thing—if I’m going to tell anyone else to be bold, I’d better start with myself.
That’s why I recently made my first Facebook Live video. That’s why I’m beginning to share my songs with a wider audience than the monkeys outside my house (they think I’m pretty alright). That’s why I performed first at my open mic night.
I hoped to set a tone for the evening. To make a point by singing…
I didn’t sing much the first 20-odd years of my life, because someone once told me I couldn’t, or shouldn’t. That’s such a loss. We all carry around these incredible instruments all the time—we might as well use them, enjoy them. Who cares if they’re harsh, or ugly, or off-key?
Then, in April of this year, I started to write songs.
Are they good songs? That’s not really the point.
I’m not trying to be famous. I’m trying to do something true.
And if someone reads this—or sees me sing/perform/publish—and decides to take their own risk, then it will be doubly worth it.
It’s easy to share the things we believe we’re good at. Harder to share when others (or our own brains) have told us we’re utter failures.
But the world doesn’t need more people who hide. It needs more artists. It needs not fearlessness, but boldness. It needs more people who will stand up and say:
“This is me. I don’t care if you like it. I don’t care if my hands shake. I have a voice, so I am going to use it. Because I am human.”
That’s why I’m here—organizing open mic nights, sharing my music with the big, scary internet, breaking through my personal frontiers. Not because I’ve overcome those deeply rooted insecurities, but because I’ve decided that this is more important.
I believe art is meant to be shared. I do not believe life is always a talent show.
And it’s not enough for me to be bold; I want you to be bold too.
Fear isn’t a reason not to do something.
I believe that we are all artists, and we’d be better off if more of us started to say so. We’re human. We create our world every single day. If that’s not art, I don’t know what is.
We have these amazing instruments—our voices, our hands, our bodies—that can sing, speak, write, play, and dance.
Shouldn’t we use them?
Author: Toby Israel
Image: Author’s own, courtesy of Halley McClure
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Waylon Lewis