Fear is not fun for anyone. I am lucky enough to not have to deal with anxiety issues like a lot of people I know, but I do know fear. That nervous pit in my stomach before I go on stage, the wondering of "but am I good enough, am I (whatever) enough." We all have had those thoughts now and then. But what makes some people push past that fear and do it anyway and some quit?
I have a teaching studio where I give vocal lessons and a little bit of piano instruction. While I'm the one calling out orders in my classes, I tend to use my younger students for market research :) and the older ones often remind me to never stop working on and challenging yourself. I have noticed a bit of a trend with some of these kids now where if something is hard, they don't want to do it anymore. If something isn't comfortable for them, they prefer to try and do a lesser version that's more "acceptable" in their eyes. So I sat there thinking, So...you want to quit/get out of it because it's hard for you? Um, hi! Life is hard! How will you ever deal with the hardships of life if you've never had to deal with the small challenges of it?? Of course, instead of saying those words, I kindly encouraged the student to do it anyways and that they might be surprised how good they feel afterwards.
For me, when I look back at the most challenging times I've had and been forced to push through, I come out on the other side a different person. A better person. One that knows a little more and is a bit stronger than the one before.
I remember the first time I ever sang one of the songs I wrote. Songwriting started as a release for me, a way to sort through whatever I was going through as an angsty teen/young adult. I was 19 years old, in college, and was singing a ballad I wrote with the group I was in at WSU. (Yes, it was a show choir but we called ourselves a "review" OK?!) I had sung on stage hundreds of times before this without a care but this time was different. Imagine reading one of your old diary entries to an auditorium full of your peers. It's extremely exposing, a very vulnerable place to be, and that's pretty much what I was about to do. I remember shaking on the side stage and trying to keep my breath from completely leaving my body.
The band started, I strolled to the mic with all the pieces of confidence I could find, closed my eyes, and started to sing. Imagining myself alone in a practice room, the song allowed me to escape the reality of where I was and just do the dang thing. It wasn't the greatest performance of my life, in fact, it wasn't even that great. But when the song finished and I got behind the big curtain and exhaled loudly. The applause died down and I bowed my head. Wow, I just did that. And guess what? Nothing changed. My friends were still my friends, supporting me no matter what. I still had to go to class the next day (well...most likely went to class) and life went on. Basically, it didn't kill me. It didn't even hurt. It allowed me to prep for the next time and the next time and the next time until it wasn't scary anymore. Not that it was never scary again, but once you face your fears enough times, they actually go away!! Do they teach that in school? Because they should. And once you get over those, you just make way for new ones! :)
I hope that challenges like this don't diminish with the younger generations (saying younger generations makes me feel like a grandma) and that people, young and old, see the value in challenging yourself. Because what it comes down to is fear isn't even real. FEAR IS NOT A REAL THING. It's the thoughts that we let sit and fester in our minds of all the terrible "what if's" that could possibly happen that hinders us from moving. From growing - from building up our muscles to crawl, walk, then run.
I took some time and space from local shows the past 6 months-year to really figure out where I wanted to go as an artist. It was so important to me that this next release did not feel like or have the same outcomes as the last ones, which means, I have to do things I've never done before. Unknown things. Scary things! But guess what, I would much rather be scared and moving forward then comfortable and standing still. So while this is my reminder to myself to continue to push past fear with my pursuits, I encourage you all to do the same. It makes life so much more exciting and you have better stories to tell people... :)
"All men are driven by faith or fear - one of the other - for both are the same. Faith or fear is the expectation of an event that hasn't come to pass or the belief in something that cannot be seen or touched. A man of fear lives always on the edge of insanity, a man of faith lives in perpetual reward."
-Andy Andrews, The Seven Decisions