Have you ever practiced radical honesty? What the hell is that. Here goes:
When I was in high school, I was fearless about my music. Even when I was nervous about something, I went for it anyway. I wrote it, I said it, I sang it. I even worked on writing a song almost everything single day.
Then I graduated high school and I became more afraid of my fear and it guided me more as a musician. I still went for it but in a way where I was confident the better I was, instead of because I love it. I lost the spark in me that knew "I was and would always be learning" & the "I love this too much to care what other people think," spark. How I miss that in me though I know because I am able to write this, it's still there. :)
Discovering the music scene in Asbury Park, NJ was the best thing to happen to me musically. I made a whole new group of life-long friends. If you are reading this and we met playing music together, yes, we are life long friends. Deal with it. :) We have a special bond...some formed at Bond Street....you're welcome for the cheese(y-ness). Anyway, I really found my voice as an artist and learned a lot about performing. Yet still, I did not give it my all.
Here is it's origin and my personal pattern:
I am writing this in hopes of finally getting out of this cycle, by bringing it to light, and committing to changing it.
It started at Aerial's Gymnastics
When I was about 8 years old and had been training at gymnastics for a little while, I was told I needed to be on a higher level team. This continued to happen and quickly, until I was eventually placed on our USAG team. The team that trains for the Olympics.
This is the first time I felt the switch of the spark of excitement I once had, flip. Suddenly, there was pressure. I was on the best team you could be on. We trained for 9 hours a week, one for every year old I was...On Tuesday's, we did calisthenics, ONLY. It started with hollow rocks (ab making), then legs against the wall and a hundred or so toe taps, human wheel barrels (they hold your feet, you "walk" with your hands. It was intense, but i was RIPPED. After a while, it became fun for the most part to train so hard. We were all solid as a rock with muscle. I thought I loved it until an immense amount of bravery was required of me... I think it started on the balance beam. That was my favorite..I loved balancing and feeling strong and graceful in my dance-like gymnastics routine. I showed a lot of promise there. When it came time to do our flips off the beam, I started to picture every type of injury I could accrue. It was important to protect my neck, this I knew, this I thought about a lot. We also learned special, safer ways to FALL (oh my god, scary), and land but nothing was "fall" proof as far as injuries were concerned!!!!
Suddenly, I remember thinking: "I might die. This could kill me. Are they crazy?" Slowly, I started saying no. No to most things on beam, even the things I loved. The balance beam suddenly felt like a skyscraper, and my dancing felt stiff, not elegant. I needed a spot for every flip even though I know that I had it.
After watching someone get carted off by an ambulance for landing wrong on their neck, I started to fear flips on floor, forget my routine, and picture all of the potential accidents that could happen to me. I loved floor for similar reasons to beam. I loved that elegant, strong feeling of dancing, flipping, precision. Instead of focusing on that, all I could feel was terror.
I began really slipping mentally and intern, wasn't able to keep up physically as I was having so many panic attacks at practice. I leveled down and down until I was on a much less intense team. It wasn't even fun anymore. I had trained so hard and by this time, I was bored by a lack of challenge. I wanted to quit. Luckily, my mom really loved horse back riding and I had recently had an amazing experience at a sleep away gymnastics summer camp. I was riddled with fear and anxiety at this camp. I was maybe 10 years old and there were Olympic athletes speaking and training us. I signed up for horse back riding as one of my events that week and there it was, my safety, my calm, my excitement. It all came rushing back. I was cured! It was the gymnastics! It wasn't for me. So I thought...
Later that night, I decided to check out this cool karaoke spot that was provided for campers at all times of the day. It was the coolest thing ever. From then on, every night I would quickly eat my dinner, and rush over to start practicing before anyone got there. I had been writing songs at home to myself for a little while, and it felt like the opportunity of a lifetime to be on a stage and sing songs by my heroes. In those moments, I was Britney Spears.
Gymnastics camp taught me and confirmed a lot. I do not want to be a gymnast, for it is too dangerous and I might die (obviously, very much due to anxiety and catastrophic thinking), my mom loves horses and it was a sure fire way to get out of gymnastics and "change sports", and I want to be a pop star. Everything was perfectly planned and it really was, it all really worked. Sorry mom for using your love of horses against you to get out of gymnastics.
I'm 26 now and I feel like I am repeating gymnastics all over again with my music. I'm afraid of the flips, the failure, the cost of my life. Though it’s not physically dangerous, it has dangers too. If you're not careful, you could go broke, you need a job that understands and is okay with touring, it's long nights, it's less time with friends, family, and loved ones. It's a sacrifice. Why are things I love always such a sacrifice? Why can't I just be happy working a 9-5 for the rest of my life. I have time after work and on weekends to make things happen. I have a job I really like that affords me the ability to live and provide for myself. I know I am safe, have the time, talent, and the means to have my career really off the ground in a couple of years. Why am I so scared of taking risks? It absolutely terrifies me.
all that to say: I am making an oath to myself, to work healthier not harder, to focus on what I love and things that bring me joy, to practice gratitude and my damn guitar too, to write as much as I can because it makes me happy. Like I said, I don't do well under competitive pressure and I think why I liked Asbury so much was because it felt like a big music family. Maybe every city has a music family, I am in Nashville....the odds are in my favor. Maybe I am my own music city, music family, cheerleader, writer, and worker.
Maybe you are too at whatever you love to do. More on this in another blog. Thanks for reading.