Thirty years ago, on May 5th, I walked out onto the glassy, shiny stage to sing my already super-successful pop hit “Hajde da ludujemo” (Let’s Go Crazy).

My whole country (which was Yugoslavia at that time) was watching and rooting for me. I was representing it at the Eurovision Song Contest.

I was told I would perform in front of a billion viewers from all over Europe and across the world.

Live TV. No chance of starting over. No chance of fixing mistakes if I were to make any.

I was nineteen years old.

19.

I wasn’t happy with my hair that day. It was too made up, it lost the bounce and softness that it had before.

I hated the dress they gave me. It was too tight, it was riding up as I danced, making me self-conscious. And it was made out of cheap 90s lycra that showed sweat the moment I put it on (and I don’t even sweat).

My team of ‘top professionals’, who were supposed to support me and help me give the best performance of my life, were all stressed out, arguing and bickering around me. My make up stylist shoved two tissues under my armpits and gave me a “you got it” nudge, as I heard the MC announcing my name.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. If I was in a movie, all the noise around me would disappear and I would be standing there like the Little Prince, standing on his little planet at the edge of some distant Universe.

I was alone in the silence of my own being.

All these people around me, all their advice and help, and all their anxiety, disagreements and inflated egos, none of them mattered.

It was my turn now. When the song started, I was the one who had to remember the dance moves, hit all the notes, remember all the lyrics and create an emotion that would charm the millions of people in the audience (as well as the voting jury). It was up to me.

So I forgot all of that. Everything that created pressure had to go. I was ready. I had the song and the steps down. I was well prepared.

Now it was time to trust. In my mind, I called up the little 4-year-old Tajci who first walked down that same stage to sing her song (Eurovision was held in my hometown of Zagreb).

All she cared for was singing her song. She just wanted to sing – because when she sang, she was happy. She felt all fuzzy and excited inside and she smiled so big that the smile stayed on her face long after her song was over.

That’s what she wanted to do – it was like finding joy and stretching it for a longer than a moment.

“Let’s do this,” I said to that same heart of mine. “The joy and magic that happens when we sing is why we are here. Nothing else matters.”

And so I danced (in high heels on that slippery glassy stage) and I sang. And I opened my heart so wide I wondered if a human heart was meant to stretch this much and if it may burst at some point.

I was courageous, and grounded, and surrendered (and hard working and prepared), and I gave a performance so flawless and strong that to this day it remains one of the all-time favorites in the Eurovision catalogue.

It took me 30 years to acknowledge that.

Maybe it’s because of the big anniversary that I am finally ready to celebrate everything. I’m finally ready to not only celebrate the journey to today, but also the beginning – the point at which I first started walking.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been working on my book, (un)Broken, (out on May 10th) – and doing a lot of research as part of another big memoir I’m writing – that I am able to see myself with so much compassion and love. 

(Please don’t wait 30 years to treat yourself with compassion and love. That’s such a long time and a lot of life happens in it!)

Maybe it’s because my own son is 19 and I feel so proud of him for every little and big accomplishment. It makes me wonder if I ever gave myself the credit for what I did at his age. (Would you ever say things to your child that you tell yourself? Like “Oh, I’m so stupid. I can never remember such and such…” I hope not. Would you ever say: “Oh, that’s nothing!” when your child brings you her first place ribbon?)

And maybe it’s because I no longer listen to the voices that want to make us feel small and scared, and ashamed, and insignificant, and bad. (I’m sure we all have those voices around us. How are you paying attention to those around you?)

I guess all of this has helped me to finally see the amazing young woman I was.

The same one that people wanted to break and abuse and take advantage of.

The same one that left because she wouldn’t allow them to destroy her sense of self confidence and integrity.

And the biggest reason I am celebrating it in a big way is to send out a message to all who need to be celebrated today.

Whether you are a mom who had a good day after too many bad ones, or a teacher who is putting together an online lesson without any of your usual resources, or a neighbor who delivered groceries to an elderly person, or a doctor in a hospital saving lives.

Give yourself credit.

I was always aware of arrogance; I always disliked inflated egos, so much so that I was scared to have any good thoughts about me or my accomplishments. On the other hand, I recognize that my strength is not just my own.

Each of us is supported by Love, Life and each other. If we keep that in mind, we can celebrate our accomplishments with humility and gratitude.

This past month has been such a challenge that we can all use a little bit of celebration. For example, I celebrated myself for getting out of my PJs, showering and blow-drying my hair.

I felt like a superhero on days when I’d wake up feeling like I couldn’t breathe, but then somehow managed to make a delicious dinner and serve it in my nice dishes on the table covered with pretty linens.

So on that note, have a great week! And please, give yourself a break today.

Take a little time to celebrate you 🙂

Tatiana “Tajci” Cameron is an award-winning music artist, published author, inspirational speaker, and certified transformational and spiritual life coach.

She has many passions and is dedicated to helping others while also creating an enriched life for herself and her three sons. When Tajci is not on the road performing gigs, she volunteers with local organizations dear to her heart, spends time with loved ones (often involving music!), and collaborates with other artists to bring creative projects to life.

Tajci’s most recent projects include a meditation CD, an annual retreat & sea cruise in Croatia (that she organizes and hosts), and a multimedia CD/book (Un)Broken: Songs My Father Taught Me.

I so look forward to the Saturday emails and can’t wait to get to my inbox to read them! The inspiration, music, positivity, and faith….I need all of this so badly on some days. Thank you so much!

Carol

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