There are times in your life when you simply have to bite the bullet and haul yourself, kicking and screaming, out of a rut and push yourself way out of your comfort zone.
There are many things which exist outside my comfort zone. I am a creature of routine and I get a little anxious should anyone even suggest a variation from the norm. I like things as I like them. I’m perfectly happy keeping myself out of the limelight - battering away on my well worn keyboard and keeping a low profile.
So, it was very strange to last weekend find myself auditioning for a (albeit small) solo for a show to be held in the Millennium Forum next year. It has been well documented in this column that I have no confidence in my singing ability.
In fact it was only when I was strong armed into joining a choir (no audition necessary) in 2011 that I ever sang publicly. For the last year and a half I have enjoyed my moments in the second row - my voice masked by the 40 or so other members around me.
Most of the time I surprised myself by singing in tune and even being able to throw a few moves into the mix (We’re one of those contemporary choirs - we like to dazzle with a few basic moves from time to time).
Most of the time I’ve felt confident enough that should I hit a bum note I’ll have the support of the folks around me and I’ve been more than happy with that.
Singing at all was something I never envisaged myself doing so I was happy to coast along and bask in the reflected glory of the choir around me. But last week, in what can only be described as a mini breakdown of sorts, I decided to push myself a little further.
As part of a show planned for May next year, the choir committee asked members to consider auditioning for solos, group numbers or duets. And as a result of this - and to my surprise as much as anyone else’s - I found myself in a friend’s living room on Friday evening making up harmonies and dance routines as we practised our roles as members of a very well known girl band from the 90s.
It was as if I was transported back in time to the late 80s or early 90s when getting together when a group of friends to make up harmonies and yes, dance routines, was par for the course for my down time.
I never thought for one moment I would be reliving those days in my mid 30s and I had long since given up any notion of auditioning X-Factor style in front of a panel of judges.
Okay so the settings were slightly different (a wee room in the Millennium Forum versus a packed auditorium) and lovely as our judging panel were, they aren’t Gary, Louis, Nicole or Tulisa but that did not stop me feeling as if I may actually boke on my shoes as I waited outside for my time to sing.
On more than one occasion I was tempted to just go home - to tell my fellow band members that I’d changed my mind and sure they would be better off without me anyway.
I have never known fear like it - the thought that I was about to do something so far outside of my comfort zone that I could no longer even see my comfort zone and that I had made the decision to do it all by myself.
The fear on my face and that on that of my fellow group members made Christopher Maloney’s rattling and contorting in his X-Factor audition look mild in comparison.
As we waited for the music to start there was a part of me which almost burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation - that I, a grown woman, mother of two, overweight housewife/ journalist/ author was about to give it my all doing my very best Posh Spice impression.
Worse than that I was sober. And I actually cared if the people I was singing to liked it, and I lived in mortal fear of them bursting into laughter at the cut of me. (I knew the others would be fine. If there were any peals of laughter they would definitely be directed at me.)
There was no Dermot waiting in the wings to coax me along and offer a hug after. There were just us ready to sing - most of us never having opened our mouths on our own before.
Standing there I had to make a decision. I had to decide to run or just go for it - so I gave it the best I could. I may have wobbled on a few notes. Some of my dance moves may have been slightly off. I may have looked more than a little like mutton dressed as lamb but I felt the fear and I did it anyway.
I don’t know what, if anything will come of it. Chances are in May I’ll be back in the second row - and happy to be there too.
But there will always be a wee part of me that will remember the day I overcame one of my biggest fears and sang in front of other people. That for me is as big an achievement as it is for anyone who auditions, or even goes on to compete in, the actual X Factor.
And it managed to teach me that sometimes my comfort zone is not as comfortable, or rewarding, as I thought it was.