I have always been the kind of person that is easily embarrassed. I prefer to keep things to myself and have never been one to show off.
It seems weird to say that. After all, I regularly spill my guts out for strangers to read on the internet and have released 3 smutty romance novels to date. I’ve put a few videos on YouTube, and used to use Periscope pretty regularly (which is something I’ve recently gone back to). I get drunk and sing karaoke whenever I get the chance and I used to be in bands.
By all accounts, people could be forgiven for thinking I’m an outgoing person. However, the fact remains. I’m not a very open person in the real world. I tend to shy away from sharing my talents with others.
With this in mind, I would like to tell you about a very recent breakthrough in my personal life.
For years, I have refused to play guitar in front of anybody.
There was this very real fear that I wasn’t good enough. I know a lot of guitar players who are much better than me, and I just knew I was opening myself up to comparison and criticism. Knowing that I’m a sensitive person by nature, I didn’t want to put myself in a position to have my passion ridiculed to the point where I could no longer enjoy it.
Now, the logical solution to that problem would have been to practice more and get better. Yet, fear once again dampened that impulse. I didn’t want people to hear me struggling to learn something new. I figured it would be offensive to force the soundwaves on others and I figured no one wanted to hear the same few songs over and over, day in and day out.
To combat this, I resolved to practice only when I was home alone. Occasionally after a few drinks I’d play in front of my best friend or my husband, but I mostly kept that to myself. I’m pretty sure people began to think I just kept my guitars around for decoration.
I always had these simple goals in my head. I dreamt of playing guitar and leading sing alongs around a campfire or in my backyard with all my friends and family. I dreamt of entering open mic nights and playing in little cafes. I dreamt of playing in my living room without fear.
Every now and then I’d go through spurts where I’d play more often and learn some new songs. I’d build up a little confidence and pack my guitar for family camping trips. This time, I’d play. Inevitably the guitar would stay in the car and I’d be hit with an intense wave of disappointment. I could never bring myself to shake off the fear that held me back.
After a while, I gained a little bit more confidence and decided to put a few videos up on Youtube. Let me tell ya, that was a hard thing to do! I was nervous about sharing that part of myself, especially knowing that I’m not exactly a virtuoso. Still, it was invigorating to put myself out there. Sure, they never got any shares or anything, but I didn’t get horrible comments telling me how bad they were either. That’s a win in my book.
However, even with the little bit of confidence that such a leap brought, I couldn’t bring myself to play in front of people in real life.
A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to visit his parents. A couple friends of ours were there and they got out a guitar. I watched with envy as they played for one another and discussed techniques and influences. Both of them are far more talented than I, and I longed to be included.
After a while, one of them handed me the guitar. With shaking hands, I accepted the instrument and began playing a few songs I knew I couldn’t possibly mess up. That’s when my mother in law said something that shook me to my soul.
“You know, I’ve only ever heard you play 2 or 3 times in the 10 years I’ve known you.”
I looked at her like she’d grown three heads. I’d lived with her for a significant amount of time, surely she’d heard me more than that. She disagreed and pointed out that she’d seen me play more in my videos than she ever had in person.
Of course, I found myself slightly embarrassed at the comment and it got me thinking. Why had I hidden it away for so long? All these years I had waiting for an appropriate time, when I could have created those situations for myself. I had let fear win and rob me of great memories.
A few weeks later, I found myself sitting on the dock at my in-law’s pond. A guitar was placed in my hands and I fulfilled a small dream of mine as I sat there and played through some of my favorite songs. My mother in law walked by and gave me this proud-mother smile, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
It’s a small step for sure, but it’s a step that will lead me further in my personal journey.
I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog blathering on about following your heart and being your true self, and yet I was still denying a large part of my soul. While I have always believed that there’s no such thing as bad art, somehow deep down I thought that didn’t apply to me.
Clearly, I have more work to do in order to let go of all of the insecurities that have held me back. Fear does nothing but steal our joy and hold us back from truly living. In order to live authentically, we have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable. We have to do things that scare us a little bit and learn to quiet that voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re not ready, that things could go wrong. We have to run headlong towards our goals and embrace where we are at every stage of our development with pride.
So embrace your song, take a small step towards happiness, and stop hiding away!
With that said, I have recorded a new video and put it up on Youtube to share with you all and to mark this moment in my journey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!