Monthly Archives: April 2012

Photos from the past few days

Proving

Truth:

I have lived most of my life trying to prove myself or prove something to everyone around me.

Truth:

I have felt inadequate and rejected more times than I can remember.

The more I dive into my thoughts and memories the more I seem to remember new negative situations from my past.  I have spent so much emotional energy trying to find relief from anxiety and depression by trying to find a way to be accepted by certain groups of people (or anyone for that matter) that I have had long stretches in my life where I lose interest in everything.  This feeling of inadequacy has bled into every part of my life.

Playing music at some point turned into a test of my validity as a person.  Outwardly I reject that idea, but inwardly I feel its weight bear down on me.  Slowly, the anxiety eats away at my energy, my spirit, and my hope.  This leads to that numb, dull, empty feeling of depression.  Once I’m there it’s always at least a few days before I feel better again.

Nothing is more paralyzing than the thought that you have something to prove and you aren’t good enough to prove it.  And nothing is more disheartening than hearing that expressed to you verbally or insinuated to you in critique.

But that’s what happens when you believe you aren’t good enough.  Every critique, every word shared, hell, every compliment is brought under the microscope and analyzed in an anxiety laced mini-internal-panic.  Most of the time I hide it, but its almost always there.

It’s this game I play where outwardly I don’t show it off to most people, but just behind my eyeballs, it feels like World War III is raging, and I can’t help but feel like I am losing ground everyday.

It seems like there is no way out when I’m deep in “it.”  I feel like a failure–almost cursed.  So I just kind of sit there most days and wait for something good to magically happen to me. Which is foolish, because even if something good happens to me, after awhile, I will find a way to discover something negative about that situation.  I’ll find out I’m not good enough for that, and the whole game will start all over again.

The cycle seems endless…

But it’s really not the truth.  It’s really not the case.  And, it’s really just a lie.

Truth,

I have nothing to prove to anyone.

Truth,

I’m acceptable.

Truth,

I have been blessed beyond my understanding.

Truth,

I need to learn to be thankful.

Truth,

I need to learn what it means to work hard for something and not have my worth tied to my task.

I believe in Jesus–at least most days I do.  I try to follow His teachings. I try to make sense of things through that filter.  But, whether you follow Jesus or not, whether you are a Buddhist, Atheist, or you don’t even know what you are, if you are in the same situation as me, meaning you are a 20-something American living in suburban America, you are pretty damn blessed.  The problem is we have so much emotional energy tied into this idea of being something “special.”  Which is really just a meta-physical abstract idea we strive for.  It’s gibberish. It’s completely subjective depending on who is talking.

We are surrounded by this make-believe social network that we perceive as “the real world” where everyone is a Kickstarter, a YouTube video, or a contest away from getting their “break.”  None of us are craftsmen anymore.  We are lazy, overweight, overly analytical, and we overanalyze every step we make, rather than just being who we seem to be and allowing ourselves the space to become what we will.

I’m a musician, but I only play music about once every month.  At least, that used to be the case.  I’ve decided that is unacceptable.  To be a musician who only plays once a month is depressing.  Mainly because it means I’m not playing music (which is key to being a musician).  I used to think about how to strategically play shows, how to game plan, and how to work the system.  It was all a way to formulate how I could become “successful.”  What did that mean to me?  I have no clue.  I think it meant being popular or well liked.  Maybe it meant making enough money to live off of.  Sometimes it meant being able to go on tour.  Or maybe it meant having 50-100 people come to my shows.  It changed regularly.

It was all a game of trying to prove to myself and to everyone else that I had what it “took.” Funny thing is, I never gave myself the chance to do what I set out to do.  Few of us ever actually play enough, or do enough outside our circles of friends to actually find out if we are “good enough.”  We just play shows for our friends and families for a few months.  They lose interest in us, and as they lose interest, we lose interest in ourselves.

We compare ourselves to overnight successes. We’d rather be the next American Idol than the next Paul Simon, Tom Petty, or Beatles.  It’s sad.  Every artist who makes it has had to grind it out for years before they make it.  Even the talented ones.  But, no one wants staying power or a slow build anymore. We want to be famous now.

We have the gift of living in a country during a period of time where we can create art and services that could never be created as easily during any other time in history.  I call it a blessing from God, you can call it luck, but regardless of what it is, we are all scared shitless and not moving while the world is literally at our finger tips. We need to get off our butts and do something.

We might not make a lot of money, we might not be the next Coldplay, but we will meet people and share stories and build what matters most in this life–relationships.

In Matthew 22, Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God and to love other people.  Essentially, this is (at the least) a call to learn to be happy with your existential state and to appreciate the existential state of others around you (at the most it’s a call to learn to be intimate with the creator of the universe and learn how little you have to prove and how much freedom you are actually given).

Basically, be happy that you are alive, and value others’ lives.  In John 6:28-29, Jesus says the work God requires of us is to believe, or you could also use the word trust, or have faith.  To put that plainly, the work we have before us each day is to believe that we can do something, that we don’t have anything to prove to anyone, but we have something to share and something to be thankful for.  For those of us in the situation of being an American suburban product, we really don’t have excuses for why we aren’t kicking ass and taking names.  We are privileged, blessed, talented, and we have nothing but time on our hands.

This doesn’t have to apply to being a musician, or painter, or “traditional” artist.  If you are a landscaper, construction worker, factory worker, barista, whatever.

Two nights ago, I did an open mic night in Warren, MI, and I met a guy who was a truck driver.  He tried to downplay his job to me and I wouldn’t let him.  He moves goods across a country that is dependent on men and women like him getting goods to us.  If we don’t have truck drivers, we fall apart in this country.  That dude didn’t have anything to prove. He has value. He has worth.  And, even beyond his function as a truck driver, he has worth.  Within each human being is the potential for unlimited good works.  Yes, there is the possibility for bad things as well, but either way, there is a vast amount of energy that can be used to create, spark, and do so much.

Religious or not, I don’t really care what background you come from, you have the ability to impact your world, and the world with who you are.  We all have the ability to be a positive force on the world, we just have to stop trying to prove ourselves to people and believing we aren’t good enough.  Love people. Be thankful for the gift of love. Allow each other to be human and flawed. Don’t compete. Walk along side and learn. Encourage.

We don’t have to prove ourselves. Our work will prove to us what we can and can’t do.  In the process of trying to become one thing, we will become who we “are” without even realizing it.  The important thing is that we share ourselves without fear, underneath an umbrella of worry, anxiety, shame, and doubt, but sincerely from a place of thankfulness, humility, and confidence in who we are.  So, go out and do your thing, you are one of a kind and amazing.