Karaoke, Humiliation and Just Going for it

May 11, 2022

Rivalia Naidoo (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer


Confession time: I’ve never actually been to karaoke. Snowboarding, poetry reading and dancing, I’ve all done. But there’s something about karaoke where I’d rather fall face-first into the snow rather than sing (and sing very badly I might add) in front of people. 


However, I feel like this is common practice. After all, who would want to willingly humiliate themselves? Wanting to safeguard ourselves from embarrassment and negative experiences is in our DNA. It’s meant to protect us and make sure we don’t make fools of ourselves. And singing an off-key rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” would definitely fit into that category. 


Well, maybe. Or maybe not. 


But why does it matter anyway?


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve struggled to balance the opinion I have of myself against the opinions of others. It’s sometimes even influenced the decisions I make and the opportunities I seek out. What will my peers think of me? What will my family think of my career? What will my high school teachers think of what I’ve accomplished so far? Okay, so maybe that last one is my own anxiety coming through, but I think many of us can relate to the fear of what others might think and the hold it can sometimes have on us. 


Karaoke falls into the same bucket. It’s an especially vulnerable activity, because you’re putting yourself out there for all to see and judge (regardless of whether you think you sing like Adele or not). It’s also part of the reason that I’ve never done it.  


But I’ve come to realize that prioritizing the opinions of others at the expense of what I want to do has made me miss out on some pretty great things. Avoiding embarrassment may be evolutionarily beneficial, but it doesn’t make for the most fun of times. 


So, here comes the crux: how do we make our wants loud enough that we can actually achieve them? The answer is not straightforward. For some, it may involve taking baby steps. Want to sing but you’re hesitant to belt it out in front of a crowd? Maybe start by letting yourself sing as loudly as you can in your bedroom despite thinking you’re really bad at it. For others, the solution may be to book that karaoke room post haste.


I think the point is, that no matter how you get there, you have to give yourself permission to try. Whether it’s karaoke, starting a new hobby or something bigger, like pursuing a different career, it starts with just going for it. It’s about deciding to put your wants above your fears, and letting the pressure of public opinion and your own hesitancies, founded or not, take the back seat. 


But, I know, easier said than done. 


I still say no to experiences I think would be interesting or enjoyable because I’m too afraid to put myself out there. It’s a skill I’ve yet to master, but I don’t think anyone really can. But, hopefully, like any muscle, it will get easier with time and practice.


For me, I’m still trying out the smaller things. 


Going to a social event despite being scared I’ll embarrass myself in front of strangers.


Trying out a new hobby even though I’m pretty sure I have no skills in it.


Saying yes to new experiences even when I’m scared of the outcome.


I still do chicken out occasionally, but sometimes I persevere. And you know what? It turns out just fine. I’ve learned that you don’t have to be an expert or have the greatest skill to try something, you just have to have a curiosity and willingness to fail. Deciding to go for it despite my fears has allowed me to learn more about myself, meet new people and experience some incredible things. But none of that would’ve been possible if I hadn’t had the willingness to fail or embarrass myself in some way. Oh, I’ve certainly had my fair share of embarrassing moments (falling off a snow lift comes to mind). But, I’ve survived, and with all the more memories and experiences for it.


I think that’s the key part — even if we humiliate ourselves or fail at something, it’s okay. Putting ourselves out there won’t kill us. It may leave an embarrassing scar, but we’ll be just fine. The alternative is staying in our tightly-knit cave of comfort, without ever really growing, experiencing new things or, well, living.


So, next time you’re invited out for karaoke or asked to suggest something fun to do on a Friday night, why not just go for it? 



Hi, I’m Rivalia! I’m a scientist, amateur yogi and book fanatic. I’ve always loved how words have the ability to comfort and connect us, no matter how we feel or where we are. I hope my words here can bring a little bit of inspiration and compassion into your day. 


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