I saw a funny graphic once titled “Average Day for a Musician.” Three-quarters of the pie chart was labeled “Crippling self-doubt.” It was certainly hilarious, but I wish this wasn’t so true. Recently I was privileged to once again perform at a dance at a large convention and was treated like a rock star. Less than two days later I was wallowing in that crippling self-doubt.
All it took was working on some videos of a past performance to make me critique every flaw and question my entire purpose in life. I felt sorry for myself for having to start over in new cities twice in seven years. I felt adrift, untalented and depressed.
After several days of feeling bad about myself, my talents, my direction in life, and my status in the performing world, I turned to the AA Big Book. It reminded me of a number of things:
- I am neither above nor below others in this life journey.
- My job is not to obtain external validation, it is to be of service.
- Criticism is a way to make myself feel superior to others.
- Criticism is a way to paralyze me to focus on fear and self-pity.
In tears, I prayed today and this is what I heard: “I didn’t bring you here for nothing! Spread love in every way you can: through music, in your shows, with friends and people you meet, and by supporting others and their talents. Let go of criticism and picking things apart. Engage with enthusiasm and I will take care of you. There is enough and you are enough.”
Trusting that there is enough food, love, respect, opportunity, audience and security is really where the rubber hits the road for me. In particular, there is still a child inside me that isn’t sure there will be enough food (my particular disorder). My upbringing taught me to be extremely self-reliant and to cope by controlling my environment.
I learned not to trust I would be taken care of. These are old tapes that still frequently rule my life. I have to remind myself every day that there is enough, I am enough, and I need not live in fear.
Martha Graham, the famous dancer/choreographer once said, “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost… it is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly; to keep the channel open.”
I read her words regularly to remind myself that it is not me who sings. I am a channel for my Higher Power and the point isn’t how talented (or not) that I am. It is to keep the channel open. This is not a zero-sum game where I have to be in competition to be “the best” (whatever that means).
Objectively, I’m not going to be famous for my talents. But I still can be a blessing with them, wherever I can. This is true not just for artists, but for anyone, regardless of what that “talent” or purpose is. Keep the channel open! You are enough!
Just a thought…
Eileen, Compulsive Overeater
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