If you can’t do something perfectly, why do it at all? That was my mindset for many years. I can’t be sure exactly where I picked up such a tough attitude, but I’m thinking it might stem from gym class. I still get a sick feeling in my stomach flashing back on the soul-crushing inferiority I experienced in gym class. From being chosen last for every team, to fumbling the ball to missing the ball and getting nailed by the ball, I cringe for the little me who felt worthless for not being a better team player. The ironic thing is having equally vivid memories of playing ball after school with my younger brother and his friends, who appreciated my participation. I was able to throw, catch, hit, volley, etc. as well as the next guy (or girl). But why on earth would I have been able to enjoy sports after school but during? The answer is confidence.
I suppose the sensation of all the negativity surrounding not being good at sports (during school hours) spilled over in other areas of life. The way I handled gym class at school was by avoidance. I figured, I’m not good at this, my friends stand to lose if I am involved, and therefore sitting out is the best option for everyone.
Later in life, there were times when I didn’t do as well at something as I’d hoped to do, and suddenly became unmotivated to continue. Even though I began playing organ at age 2, and guitar and piano at 5, there were a number of years I went silent because I didn’t think I was as good as I could be. I was pinning myself up next to famous people who spent all day every day working to achieve recognition, while I dabbled in all kinds of things in search of the one thing that would turn everything else unimportant. That never happened, by the way, I still do everything I like to do regardless of how good I am.
By the time I finally faced this issue in therapy, I had become completely depressed. I wasn’t doing what I loved and felt a huge void in my life. My homework was to go to open mic nights and perform. If I couldn’t muster the courage to perform, then I had to sit there and watch every other musician. So, I did that. Then the million-dollar question: Should the organizer of the open mic night quiet the “less spectacular” musicians and only let the professionals perform?
The answer: It wouldn’t be an open mic night then, so absolutely not. Everyone deserved equal time. Imagine your child has shown up to perform and is turned away because she’s less than perfect!
The moral of this story is clear to me now. Forget American Idol, The Voice and X-Factor. In real life open mic nights, what you give the audience when you perform is a look into your soul. If they appreciate it, wonderful. If they don’t, so what? Sing your song for the sake of singing rather than for the recognition or approval.