What will people think?

Maren Montalbano
4 min readFeb 21, 2020

What will people think?

For as long as I can remember, this phrase has been playing on loop in my head. I hear it nearly every day — sometimes soft, sometimes loud — but it’s always there.

I’ll be performing in a show this weekend where the audience will expect to see me doing something I excel at — singing. Instead, they will see me playing violin — an instrument that I haven’t played with any regularity in over three decades. My violin skills are far from excellent, and I’ll be singing too, but still…

What will people think?

The fear voice in my head likes to tell me that I’ll be judged for not being perfect. So I push back and ask, “Is that true?” I don’t judge others based on their perfection or lack thereof. So why would that unattainable standard apply to me?

I’m in the process of writing and producing a one-woman show entitled The Bodice Ripper Project. Based on steamy romance novels I’ve written, it explores human sexuality and fantasies in an authentic and relatable way. I am going to be telling my story on a literal stage, revealing a whole lot of myself in the process. I know great art stems from true vulnerability, but still….

What will people think?

On top of everything I have started a new business venture: I’m a coach.

It’s scary to say that out loud. But here’s the thing -

Over the past two years, I have benefited greatly from coaching support. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to move forward with my artistic projects with as much focus, ease, and confidence without it. And in that context, I feel strongly that it is time for me to use my own experiences to help guide others through their own projects.

But then it pops up again…

What will people think?

This voice is the loudest, because it’s not coming from within — it’s coming from the people I know and love. And to me it sounds like disbelief.

“You’re a coach? You mean, like a life coach?”

“Won’t building this business distract you from your Bodice Ripper Project?”

If there is something I’ve learned from coaching, it is the power of the question:

Is that true?

And when I ask myself that question, this is the answer that comes from my heart: I believe that my coaching and artistic careers compliment one another, not distract from each other. I get to lift up other artists while I am lifting up myself. As I learn lessons, I am able to pass them on to others immediately.

Life coach. Career coach. Vocal coach. Whatever you want to call it — I use my own experience with arts administration and performance to help other artists gain clarity on their projects so that they can move forward with confidence and administrative efficiency.

I’ve been wearing many hats all my life. When I was in college, I attended both Tufts and NEC at the same time, getting two degrees in five years. I’ve been both an administrator and a singer in The Crossing. I’ve been a director and a performer at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

I bet you wear a lot of hats too.

I also bet you ask yourself, “What will people think?” Because we all do.

Sometimes that question acts as a good check in. But most of the time, those thoughts don’t really serve our growth.

So instead of asking myself what other people think, I’m starting to ask myself:


What do I feel when I play my violin? Joy, even though I’m not very good at it.

What do I feel as I’m developing the Bodice Ripper Project? Delight, even though I know it’s a lot of work.

What do I feel as I fully step into my role as a coach? Gratitude, because I know the impact that coaching has had on me, and I am looking forward to helping other people develop their amazing potential.

So, I’m curious. What are you feeling right now as you wear the multiple hats in your life? And when push comes to shove, is that the question you are asking yourself? Or, are you stuck on what people will think?

If you are, that’s okay. You’re not alone — I’ve been there too.

Let me know and let’s look at how you can stop worrying about the opinions of others — and start putting yourself and your passions first.



Maren Montalbano

Mezzo-soprano & business coach for creatives. Singer, dreamer, Ren Faire nerd. You can hear me on 3 GRAMMY-winning albums. https://marenmontalbano.com/links