“I eventually became exhausted, uninspired, stuck and broke as fuck.”
Over the last two decades I’ve performed in front of thousands of people and spent over ten thousand hours practicing.
There’s no way of counting how many songs I’ve written… there is literally a lifetime supply.
I also became a Wellness Professional over a decade ago and have led hundreds of yoga, fitness and meditation classes.
I’ve worked with Grammy Award winning producers, released 15 singles to date and coached some of the best athletes in the NHL, NASCAR & Olympics.
I’ve been praised, ridiculed, put on a pedestal and knocked on my ass.
I’ve been signed, independent, rich, poor, up, down and everything in between.
As “fearcely” as I live my life, I’m also a flawed human being who has spent a lot more time than an Instagram feed would have you believe- in fear.
Heartbreak. Failure. Loss. Suicidal thoughts.
I’ve been through it all in both my music and wellness careers, and upon facing some of my deepest, darkest fears, I was able to create perhaps my greatest win yet: Fearce Academy.
I’m Janey. And this is my story…
Before I was verbal I was musical.
Before I could walk I would dance.
FACT: At age 7 I was performing solo acts to the full “Lion King” soundtrack for my family… 2x a day.
FACT: By age 8 I was using the front porch of my childhood home in the 1000 Islands as a stage for my entire neighbourhood to watch on their lawn chairs.
FACT: By the time I turned 10 I was performing 40+ shows a summer with the Saint Lawrence Stage Company for my whole city.
Every spring and summer beyond that point, I spent my days in rehearsal halls, crowded dressing rooms and under the big bright lights on stage.
This was the norm for me. This was home for me.
I lived for and loved every second of this place where I felt deeply connected.
In the beginning, I was fearless…. unstoppable and completely liberated from the troubles of my life onstage.
By the time I hit my first year of high school, the combination of bullies, bad skin, body issues and beginning to perform solo more often triggered the start my stage fright.
At that time, every flaw and fear I had was amplified inside.
My strict rehearsal schedule and eccentric lifestyle only contributed to me feeling like an outcast among my peers.
I was misunderstood and lonely.
This is when a negative cycle formed:
I would get daily anxiety sometimes up to a month before a new performance, which would grow in intensity the closer it came to showtime.
24-48 hours before the performance I just all around wouldn’t eat.
The night of the show, I’d arrive at the venue usually late, find a bathroom stall and have a total meltdown.
(Unsanitary as they may be, bathroom stalls always provided the sanctuary I needed to fall apart.)
Regardless of how broken I felt though, the phrase “The Show Must Go On” was too deeply ingrained in me to make me quit. So I’d dry my eyes, re-apply my makeup and walk onstage.
In those musical moments under the bright lights, my anguish would be put on pause and the audience would wildly applaud.
Then, I’d walk offstage and go back to feeling like a fraud.
I was never good enough.
I’d be so hungry from not eating and so disappointed in myself for what a failure I thought I was, that I’d go home, eat all the food I could find and… vomit.
*Bulimia is an emotional disorder involving distortion of self image.
I struggled with this negative cycle for years and not a single person knew.
Not my parents, coaches, friends or my cast members.
I was too ashamed to reveal who I was once the curtains closed.
So outwardly I was this “star” that lived to entertain everyone… inwardly I was just scared, alone and felt entirely unlovable.
The problem was that I had no idea how to love myself without my talents, so I thought I needed to be perfect in my talents to be loved.
Being perfect onstage was the ultimate defence against being rejected off stage, where I felt so disconnected. Later though, I learned that striving for perfection was the perfect path to self-destruction.
I left home at 17, enrolled in the Music Theatre Performance program at St. Lawrence College, dropped out after a year and moved to Toronto to pursue my solo singing career.
There, the Universe became my University… and I studied day and night.
I had to learn how to do everything myself (recording, managing, styling, booking, marketing, business), including fending off the many shady characters that looked at a small town 18 year old girl the way a lawyer would look at lamb chops: FRESH MEAT.
In the process of finding myself as an artist I went through a slew of identity phases:
“Janey B” the r&b singer
“Marella Jane” the aggressive front woman of an industrial rock band
“Janey Brown” the EDM feature artist, pop diva and corporate events singer
“@janeybworld” the Performance Veteran, Mindset Coach, Speaker, Fearce Academy Founder, Film Producer…
“Janey” the woman forever learning.
Life was fast paced with travelling, recording, stages of all types, photoshoots, music videos, yoga studios and personal training.
Being productive, active, successful, talented and in the spotlight was where my self love was most abundant.
I became a professional at getting lost in late nights of rehearsals and recording, and in full days of teaching and leading to keep my mind off of how deeply flawed I felt.
Even though my careers in music and wellness were taking off, I didn’t feel like I was truly living in my purpose because I wasn’t being honest about the degree of fear and pain I had inside of me.
I eventually became exhausted, uninspired, stuck and broke as fuck.
My anxiety peaked and eventually compromised my immune system, my vocal ability and mental health.
It wasn’t until I lost my voice for close to a year that I decided to part company with the Grammy Award winning producer I was working with and file a release from my U.S. recording contract.
Don’t get it twisted. The release may have been my call… but I was devastated.
I immediately had to stop teaching all of my classes and stop singing.
I was instructed to type or write messages to people sitting next to me instead of speak.
“Don’t cough too hard and try to hold back your laughter… limit the use of our voice in every way.” Said the doctors.
It was excruciating.
But It was also a catalyst for one of the biggest transformations in my life.
“Music happens in the spaces between the notes.” – Claude Debussy
The self awareness I gained by being forced to slow down, go to therapy 2x a week and deepen my mindfulness and meditation practises, allowed me to illuminate my darkest fears and become whole with them.
With no voice or stage to make me feel powerful and no hectic lifestyle to mask my vulnerability, I had to learn to find acceptance for ALL parts of who I am; not just the girl who only knows a world of performance, applause and bright lights, but the girl who has imperfections, mental health battles and is human.
My inability to love myself was the core cause of my stage fright.
Once I found my path back to getting onstage again as my most authentic self, I wrote it down in a 5 step process, (AKA the Performance Mindset Program) and I can confidently say that since I completed this process, I have yet to come off stage feeling anything other than proud of myself.
The love I developed for the parts of me with cracks, scars and flaws, transformed me from being a ‘rockstar’ that shines onstage……into a “rock” that grounds people in courage and a “star” that guides people to self love.
I no longer feel like a badass because of what I do in my careers, but because of who I’ve become from the inside out.
FEAR is not a WEAKNESS meant to be extinguished.
It’s a CATALYST for COURAGE and CONQUEST.
For those of you who have been following my journey, you know that I’m building a company called “FEARCE ACADEMY.”
You may have been wondering why I spell FEARCE with and “EA.”
This is not a typo.
I do this to remind us that we are not beautiful and FEAR/CE in spite of our fears & flaws, we are beautiful and FEARCE because of them.
FEAR + FIERCE = FEARCE
Be brave enough to love your fears.
Be Seen – flaws and all.
Yeah, I’m talking to you.
The one who’s not afraid to feel real FEAR.
The one who’s willing to get muddy and bloody, slaying demons in the pit with the rest of us.
The one who’s got pain, wounds, flaws and shame.
Big shout out to you and your dark side.
Make a promise to yourself that you won’t try to run from it or “fix” it.
You’re not broken. You’re just human.
All FEARCE warriors have a dark side.
Without it.. we wouldn’t be whole and as a WHOLE we shine the brightest.
Your darkness is your diamond.