As an artist, self-doubt can be crippling. I get rejected all the time. That’s part of putting myself out there. By that strain of logic, if I’m not experiencing heaps of rejection, then I’m probably not putting myself out there enough. So, at some point, unless you are the current president of the United States of America, a person starts to think she/he sucks.
Sometimes I feel despair. I fall apart. But I guess I am fortunate in that, so far, I have been able to bounce back. Maybe it’s having a short-attention span, or maybe feeling despair is also a natural part of life. Renowned author and psychologist, Scott Barry Kaufman wrote:
I’ve found, over and over again, that the key to overcoming despair is to embrace the experience, and discover its meaning. Often despair is a sign that one is fighting against reality, and this realization is essential to growth.
Of course as I read that quote out of context I’m thinking, “I’m delusional to continue with music. I’m fighting reality. Kaufman is telling me that I suck. That’s why I despair.” But that isn’t Kaufman’s message. On the contrary, he’s reminding us that it’s through struggle that we grow. Chomsky agreed (see quote above). Change and progress are most often achieved through struggle. I’m inclined to agree with these guys.
Today, my younger son was busy drawing. Abruptly, he stopped, tore up the paper and said, “I suck. I can’t draw.” Discouraged and frustrated, he cried.
He is overflowing with curiosity and imagination; a deeply creative, sensitive little boy. I held him against me as his tears flowed. What could I say? I started by telling him, “Everyone feels that way. The only person I know of who doesn’t seem to doubt himself is currently president.” I quickly realized that the messaging was faulty and dropped that like a dirty diaper.
“Normal people all feel doubt, it doesn’t mean you suck. It just means you’re struggling. You’re human. It can be painful. But you’ll feel better. Do something else for a while. Anything that makes you happy. Inspiration will come again when you least expect it.”
Amazingly, he listened. And because he did, I did too.
My son happily took out his micro-machines (LOVE eBay!) and we listened to Pink Radio on Spotify. First came her mediocre (IMO) cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” He sang along. Even a bad version of this song is good. Then “Try” came on. “I love this song!” he said. He knows I do too. He jumped up. I cranked up the volume, waaaaaaaaaaay up. We both belted out the lyrics and danced around the room together.
“Ever worry that it might be ruined
And does it make you wanna cry
When you’re out there doing what you’re doing
Are you just getting by
Tell me are you just getting by, by, by…”
We sang ourselves hoarse. After, we went back to what we were doing.
Doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve accomplished or haven’t. How much money you make or don’t. At some point, we all have to scrape ourselves up off the pavement and reinject ourselves with purpose. Experience self-doubt. Open ourselves to inspiration.
Unless you are the current president.
Here’s hoping that 2018 brings you forward. Slough off 2017’s icky gunk. Tuck away the sparkly, good stuff. Life is the only game in town. It takes grit. Resilience. Even if you’re playing it incredibly safe. And where’s the fun in that?
“Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You gotta get up and try, and try, and try…”
(Written by Michael Busbee; Ben West, BTW)
Big love and all good wishes for 2018. May it be full of possibility!