How I responded when a beautiful girl crushed my dreams

This week I’m sharing a “throw-back” post that I previously shared on the “Soul Tacos” blog. I hope you enjoy it.

I stood there in shock. I hadn’t anticipated hearing the words that I just heard. Yet, deep inside I could not deny the truth being told to me…… “John, have you considered that you aren’t genetically capable of singing the repertoire that you’ve been trying to sing?”….

Let me give you the backstory to this event before I go any further….

Music is part of the Garay DNA. My family is full of musicians, vocalists, and dancers. It was inevitable that, I too, would end up picking up an instrument and take a shot at the microphone. However, while most people in our border-town were listening to the likes of Bronco, Vicente, Selena, and Tigeres del Norte, I developed a taste for R&B and soul music. I spent countless hours in front of my Emerson radio, purchased at Walmart, waiting for Power 102 to play the next jam by Boyz II Men or Jodeci. I’d listen with anticipation, and in the privacy of my bedroom I’d grab my makeshift mic, a.k.a. a broomstick, and hold my own concert for an imaginary audience of thousands of fans. I was a rockstar, on top of the world, and loved by many!

My sophomore year of high school I got introduced into gospel choirs. Suddenly, I was tossed into a world of soulful vocal riffs backed up by an organ, bass-guitar, drum-set, and a tambourine. I upgraded my Emerson radio to a double-deck cassette tape player that constantly played Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, and Hezekiah Walker. Not only was I a fan, I jumped at every opportunity be part of a gospel ensemble. My freshman year of college, while all my Chicano friends were joining the Estudiantes Unidos club, I joined the Black Allied Students gospel choir. And that’s what led to my conversation with Elena. One year into the absolute-best-musical- year-of-my-life, I experienced vocal trauma. My voice just gave out on me and I was unable to sing without sounding like a dying billy-goat. I was embarrassed, traumatized, and saddened by this occurrence.

A few years later I decided to give singing a try again. I called up the New Mexico State University music department and I asked for a recommendation for a vocal coach. That’s how I met Elena. Elena was a Senior at NMSU and was majoring in music. She was attractive, classy, and she could sing the dictionary several times through and you would never get bored. She worked with me for several weeks teaching me vocal warms ups and breathing techniques. Each week she would ask me to bring a song that I wanted to work on. Naturally, I would always bring a gospel piece. This went on for a few weeks until finally she sat me down for a life changing conversation, “John, have you considered that you aren’t genetically capable of singing the repertoire that you’ve been trying to sing?” I could feel my heart beating slow and hard. A lump also began to form in the back of my throat. “John, I’m not trying to discourage you,” Elena said. “You have a beautiful instrument. However, if you don’t take care of your voice, it’s going to go again.” She gracefully went down a list of soul singers whose careers ended before the age of 40. She went on to list all those who had longer careers. I took a moment and swallowed the lump in my throat. She was telling the truth. There was a common denominator in both lists, genetics.

Before anybody gets bent out of shape, I need to tell you that I was not in the least bit offended by what she shared. I also was not resentful. Elena’s reality check taught me 3 very important life lessons. I’d like to take a quick moment to share them with you.

I can’t master everything that I try.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is impossible for me to succeed at everything that I do. And yes, I know that self-help gurus claim to that the power of visualization allows you to master everything, “Pero esos son mentiras!!!” (Lies, I tell you). I can give you a huge list of things that I haven’t been able to master. However, in that list you will also find some amazing experiences, encounters, and realizations. I may not have mastered everything that I wanted to, but I’ve had one heck of a journey.

Sometimes, that which is appealing to the eye, is actually harmful.

Elena’s conversation with me broke my heart for a moment. However, I also see that the truth, that she shared, protected my future career. The platform that I work on requires that I have a healthy voice. I would not be effective in my current role had I not listened to her. As much as I wanted to be Shawn Stockman, from Boyz II Men, it just wasn’t a good idea for me.

I have the potential to rock the heck out of things that I’m naturally good at

Mira, a lo mejor no soy Musiq Soulchild, pero I still got some talent in me. Many years have passed since I had that conversation with Elena. Since then I’ve been able to take an honest inventory of my strengths. I’ve discovered that the things that I’m good at are way more valuable, to me, than the things I wish I could be good at. I’ve been able to build on those strengths to find success and to inspire others to find theirs.

Unapologetically yours,

John Eli Garay,

Para que no se aguiten (So you don’t get discouraged)… I thought I’d let you know that I still like to make music. Aves me gusta chanel a la Licha LLaves. Disfrutan. (Sometimes, I like to try and channel Alicia Keys. Enjoy.)

John Eli is a transformational life coach who has spent over 15 years mentoring individuals in life skills, career transitions, and through organizational change. His resume includes pastoral care, behavioral health, and higher-education advising. From an early age, John recognized that God created him to bring hope, healing and encouragement to others. He is currently walking out his purpose by helping others confront, and work through, any negative self-talk that keeps them from living life to the fullest. His ministry includes blogging, speaking, and personal development coaching. He currently lives in Chandler, Arizona with his wife, mini-schnauzer and an antique piano whom he calls, “Betty.”

To schedule a coaching session with John Eli click here.

Published by John Eli

I am a self-awareness coach (coach for humans), life strategist, blogger and speaker. I’ve spent over 21 years mentoring individuals in life skills, career transitions, relationships, and life recovery. My resume includes pastoral care, behavioral health, and higher education. From an early age, I realized that God created me to bring hope, healing and encouragement to others. I am currently living out my purpose by creating a space where people can rediscover and become all that they were created to be. I currently live in the beautiful state of Arizona with my wife, two dogs, and an antique piano whom I call, “Betty.”

23 thoughts on “How I responded when a beautiful girl crushed my dreams

  1. I’ve been there – I had a doctor tell me if I didn’t speak or sing for 6 weeks my voice would come back but it wouldn’t last – I had pushed too hard during a time that I had canker soars on my vocal cords causing massive damage – my heart sank as my main income at that time was as a worship pastor – I am limited in the amount I can sing but I have been blessed with the ability to sing as needed just not as often as I like – the reminder of the damage done that comes with over singing is heart breaking but I am reminded also that God has allowed me to continue to sing because I was told I would never be able to sing again – as you can see this post spoke to me and it comes as I prepare to start rehearsals for a one night worship concert so it is a perfect reminder of what happened and what God has and is doing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I dig your perspective. Thanks for sharing your journey….. Your story reminded me of a a crisis I went through a few years ago. I developed a horrible throat infection, where I was unable to sing for about 2 months. However, I felt closer to God than I had in ages. I remember sitting in church and since I couldn’t sing, I’d lift my hands and listened to the lyrics as everyone sang. God used those words to draw me closer to him. It was a painful, but beautiful process.


  2. Just last month I traveled across the country for a family reunion with numerous relatives I had never met. The second night was a family “talent show,” but two days before the reunion I couldn’t talk, much less sing! I was disappointed, to say the least, that I would not be able to let these people hear my “impressive” voice! But that morning, instead, I wrote a humorous song for my sister and cousins to sing for the talent show, and the family loved it. The first person to ask for a copy was a cousin I had just met and learned that he was in the music business. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I pray every day, and I do ask for quite a bit, but always with the understanding that God is a LOT smarter than I am, and He just might have something else in mind that I haven’t thought of and which is even better than what I’m asking for. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a good reminder to focus on our strengths and not covet others that we are not meant to have. 🙂 Good post! Love the way you recounted your story. Very engaging! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post, and blog in general. I’ll be following your adventures for sure. Appreciate you stopping by little corner of the blogosphere. Alicia Keys…..not a bad muse.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hola! Como estas? Greetings from Manila.

    The first lesson resonates in me. Acceptance is a major key to knowing our weaknesses and strengths, and eventually knowing what we are shaped to be. What seems to be our passion may not be truly our vocation.


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