I discovered a new fear I didn’t know I had this weekend. A couple of fears actually….but what it actually is….a fear of failure.
As a teen, I spent a lot of time isolated in my room. Sometimes on the phone with friends but mostly by myself either listening to music, writing or playing my bass guitar. That was my mode. It was what I was comfortable with. Still is.
Bass playing was something I always loved doing but never really though it would take my anywhere. It was just a hobby, I wasn’t trying to become the next rockstar. Aside from playing a couple times on stage for my church and youth group, I didn’t play in front of people. It was mostly just for me.
But then I stopped playing. I stopped playing because I was told that I sucked. From 16 – 25 I was told that I sucked at everything I did every single day. I was told I was a failure at doing very simple things like wiping the counter tops or keeping the bed made. Those things didn’t bother nearly as much as being told that I sucked at things I LOVED doing – like playing bass or even singing (still something I’m trying to gain my confidence back).
What I hadn’t realized, until this weekend, was that I was ultimately afraid to play again. Afraid that I might actually suck. But so what if I did? Who cares if I suck at playing bass guitar if it’s something I enjoy doing and I’m not hurting anyone with it right?
I bought a bass when I moved to LA in 2015 and even booked a couple of gigs with it too. My most famous being a music video for Awolnation. But I never really played it all that much. It mostly hung on my wall and collected dust. Occasionally I would take it down and pluck the strings, but it mostly served as decoration. Then I sold that bass guitar when I was drinking all of my money away. I wrote about that story here: That time I sold My Bass guitar for rent money. It was a low for me and I was down on myself often for letting it happen.
So last year, my partner at the time, surprised me with a new bass guitar. It was a very sweet gift because he knew how much it hurt to have to sell my other bass guitar (even though it was my own damn fault). However, I hadn’t even heard what it sounded like until my birthday this past weekend. Almost a year it sat on my wall collecting dust. I have an excuse, although it’s not a great one. I didn’t have an amp to practice with and it was on the list of very low priority things for me to invest in so I just didn’t. I probably could’ve but just didn’t. I thought that was the reason I didn’t play, because I didn’t have a practice amp. Wrong!
So my current boyfriend bought me an amp for my birthday (do we see a trend, my partners really like to support my passions which is pretty rad if you ask me) and now I’m all out of excuses. But what I realized was that I was hesitant to pick the damn thing up still. But why? What was holding me back? Why didn’t I want to immediately plug it in and start playing? Why?
I sat with those feelings and what I realized is that I’m absolutely 100% afraid of failure. Like somehow I’m not going to be able to play it and it’s going to crush me. I’m legit scared that I can’t do it. Why? Because I still believe deep down that I’m not good enough. All these insecurities that were instilled in me by a very cruel person. It’s something I’m working through in therapy but I hadn’t realized THIS was one of them.
Until now that is….
What Happened When I Actually Tried
So this last weekend I opened up about this with my current partner. About how special it was to me that we could do this thing together and how important it was to me to be playing again. I finally was able to just let go and play.
He taught me a few songs and then we recorded a bit. It was coming back, like riding a bike. As the music rang through my fingers and strings I thought – “What was I so afraid of?” “Why did I wait so long to try?” “Why was this insecurity still holding me back?”
The answer, I was just too afraid to try. Once I did Let me tell you….
As I sat there hearing the sound come out of the amount, the feel of my skin sliding across the metallic strings….I came back to life! My fear disappeared and I just sank into the moment. I stopped being afraid and just let myself be.
Is there something you’re not doing because you’re afraid to fail? I urge you to give it a go. Even if you fail, you’re one step closer to success. Trying is It’s own success.