Melanie Safka, known professionally as Melanie, transformed from a coffeehouse circuit folk singer to the voice of an era in one magical moment in 1969.
Melanie had a few singles under her belt when she signed on to be one of three women to perform at Woodstock. The multi-day concert was sold out at 100,000 tickets. However, 500,000 people arrived for the dairy farm event.
One of the nights, a steady drizzle fell onto the stage and crowd. The scheduled act had to cancel due to the wetness. The stage manager turned to Melanie.
The singer-songwriter took to the stage before the half a million people with just her guitar. She played her song, “Beautiful People,” even though her voice shook. To show their support and understanding, members of the audience let “candles” (lighters and matches) through the crowd – the first time such a panorama display occurred at a concert.
Melanie later wrote “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” which was inspired by the support from the crowd.
Like Melanie, I recently had a moment where the audience reached out to connect with me — and it was the best “candles in the rain” moment.
On Thursday, I presented a speech about social anxiety as part of the Mental Health Awareness Week at the Sechelt Library on the Sunshine Coast, BC with my friend, fellow Toastmaster, and mentor – Patricia Hetherington.
Patricia talked about her struggles with mental health and read a beautifully crafted chapter from her upcoming book. She then passed the lectern to me.
With heartbeat pounding in my ears, shaking hands and butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I stepped before the crowd to outline my struggle with social anxiety. I talked about how my height and introverted personality contributed to self-esteem issues. I shared how these were the building materials that erected barriers around me — isolating me from connecting with others.
With a shaky voice, I told them how I choose to use my words to propel me out of my comfort zone. I shared how my journey from journals to blogging to public speaking was a work in progress to the person I know I can be.
And then the magic moment happened.
After the speeches concluded and the applause died out, people came up to me and shared their stories of struggles and triumphs with anxiety. They told me about their height issues and feelings of “sitting life out.” They talked about how sometimes the little steps outside of the comfort zone were the hardest.
There is a sense of relief when you hear the “me too” stories. There is a release when you hear that you aren’t the only one. There is a sense of hope when you hear how they are taking steps to take themselves out of their comfort zone.
The best part was hearing how my story touched them and how they could relate.
It’s why I talk about social anxiety.
Our voice is our greatest resource in our daily struggles with anxiety. Our voice is at its most powerful — when we are at our most vulnerable.
Share your story.
- Melanie Safka on WikipediaMelanie Safka on Wikipedia
- Melanie Safka’s Official WebsiteMelanie Safka’s Official Website