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“I Can’t Find My Voice Alone

“We always have a tape playing in our head. The question is which tape are you playing?”

What’s my voice? Do I have a voice? Does anyone want to hear what I have to say? Why do they care? I thought about all this for a long time and it felt like my voice didn’t matter. I became really good at listening to the voices of other people. That turned into “Make sure that I hear what other people have to say first”. That became a part of my identity. When people ask me “What do you think?” I answer back, “I’m not sure, what do you think?”

Exactly one month ago, 8/16, for the first time in my life, I did a solo show: “Home: My Heart”.

This show impacted me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. First of all, there was only 6 weeks from the day I decided to do this show to the day I did the show. I wanted to go home. That’s what I kept saying whenever I was burnt out, exhausted, or sad. After an ugly cry session I had with Brandon on the kitchen floor, we decided that this trip home and my show would happen. I wrote my script in 4 days. It was like opening my heart and brain, vomited out everything, rearranging the pieces, and putting them back into my heart and brain.

From HOME: My Heart

Because this story was so personal, I had a hard time separating myself from the script in the beginning of the rehearsal process. I knew in my gut that I didn’t want to BE IN the story. I wanted to TELL the story. It would take a lot of processing and prep work before I could tell this story. I had to be ready. So I gave myself full permission to do 2 things. One: let myself feel whatever emotions that come up. Two: do the complete opposite of what I’d do usually.

I noticed how much I was living in those moments. The pain, anger, sadness, confusion--those feelings were still deep in me. Every time I said or read those lines, I felt as if it was happening right at that moment. “What did I do to myself?” I kept asking myself. Usually, my “I have to be positive!” mindset would kick in. I’d try to shift and flip the script, whatever I can do to get out from those feelings. This time was different. I chose to feel. I let myself be angry, be sad, feel the pain, and be confused.

At the end of the second rehearsal, Brandon, now my director, gave me an assignment.

“Read it like it’s your favorite story that you can’t wait to read again. You keep coming back to this story over and over. It must be your favorite story.”

I thought about my favorite stories and movies that I can’t wait to see over and over again. Then I tried to read my script in the same way. I COULDN’T. I was mad as hell at this main character, i.e. ME. Why are you such a drama queen? Why are you letting other people walk all over you? What’s wrong with you? Witnessing this story from “OUTSIDE”, that’s what it felt like. I realized that these are the tapes that I’ve been playing in my head all these years. “Do I want to keep telling myself the same story over and over?” I asked myself. HELL NO. It was clear.

Deep in the rehearsal process

“You get to win.”

Two weeks before the show, Brandon told me that game changer. There was one part in the script that wasn’t quite connecting with the rest. It felt like I was still holding onto the past and my ideas of what I wanted from the past. One last string that was attached to the old tape that has been playing. When he said, “You get to win,” it was a light bulb moment. I pressed STOP on the tape and switched it for a new one. I added one line to the script to make things move forward. Then, everything started moving. “I get to WIN at the end.” The open heart surgery of my story was complete. I looked at the words, notes, and comments on my script and realized that it had turned into my favorite story. I put the story back into my heart and brain. Just where it started.

“Welcome home” my heart whispered.

I found my voice through my art, the people that I worked with, and the people that I wanted to share this with. If I didn’t choose to have this experience, I would still be playing my old tape. If I didn’t choose to have this process with Brandon and Shino, I wouldn’t have been able to find my new tapes. If I didn’t choose to share this experience with people, I wouldn’t have been able to have the courage to dig deeper. I found my voice inside me.

“I have nothing to prove but everything to share,” I kept telling myself before the show. Something my friend told me a long time ago. So loves. I wanna share this with you. If you had nothing to prove, what would you want to share? What if you can give yourself permission to really dig deeper with full compassion and vulnerability? What if you have people who love you waiting to hear what you have to say? Do you know that you get to WIN at the end of your story? I can’t wait to hear your story.

Sending love & light

Yuko Kudo, Artistic Director and founder of “I AM” Series.

Finally had the courage to do a solo show past August after 2 years. Singer/Pianist/Photographer/Writer … Superpower is falling in love with people! IG: @yukoislovelivelife

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