If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’re probably aware by this point that I’m a textbook emetophobe. Like, a mind-over-matter, do-anything-not-to-puke-and-to-avoid-potentially-vomitous-situations, catch-a-virus-and-magically-not-barf-while-other-people-in-household-barf-repeatedly-with-same-virus kinda gal. It’s pretty much my biggest fear. But this doesn’t mean that I don’t have other fears. And I would love to share one particularly strong fear that I have with you today. Yay, talking about stupid things we fear! Almost as fun as reading about someone’s dream that makes no sense or like, listening to your great uncle’s war stories when you’re hungry or something.
SO…there’s this part of my brain, often a very annoying, interrupty part, let’s call him Can’tye West, that likes to chime in when I’m thinking of trying something or ‘going for it’ with an idea I have, that says things like “psst…hey Lesley. I know you’re excited right now, and I’mma let you finish, but you are actually secretly terrible at this and nobody’s going to have the heart to tell you for the rest of all time.”
Damnit, Can’tye! You. Are. DESTROYING me. Put down your autotuner and GTFO of my brain, already!
He perpetuates this fear….that in pretty much ANYTHING I do, that I am like William Hung from American Idol. That I like, think I’m good at something but in reality I’m really terrible and nobody else has the heart to honestly tell me until I get myself to a point where I feel more confident and ready to really put myself out there and then someone is going to go all Simon Cowell on me and tell me I sound like a dying cat*
*metaphorically speaking, applied to whatever it is I’m doing, sound involved or not
Can’tye paralyzes me. He makes me second guess anything I publicly share.
He makes me too nervous to sing or play piano at parties.
He makes me hesitant to tell people I’m an artist and break out in a chest rash/avoid eye contact when prodded for more information.
He makes me wince or immediately shrug off any form of praise from people I’m close to.
If I get a compliment from someone I don’t know or someone that pulls weight in the industry I’m in, I feel a bit more flattered. But unless someone’s whipping out their wallet or being like “sure hold on one second…hey Lesley? Yeah I have Oprah on the phone for you, she wants to buy all your artwork and produce your musicals and get you a book de- oh hold on….hello? Oh sure one sec! Hey Lesley Ford Models says they were on the fence about the negotiations but the two-year contract with Burberry sounds great, and we’ll just make sure it’s nonexclusive so you can still work with IMG. Can you do lunch with Coco Rocha next week? Oh and I almost forgot to tell you Penguin says your children’s book will be back from the printer’s tomorrow and we can go over the Barnes & Noble contract and look into embossing the covers with the Caldecott Medal” I’m like, rocking away in a mental corner hearing “She bangs! She bangs!” in William’s signature timbre.
I know I have weird ‘musical superpowers’. I know my artwork isn’t terrible or else it wouldn’t sell. I know I can put coherent sentences together with enough je-ne-sais-quoi to keep …well, at least 19 people mildly interested at the moment.
But…Can’tye is all “well if you were actually good you’d have/be/have done/made/created this this and THIS by now. People say nice things ’cause they don’t have the heart to hurt your feelings or burst your bubble. They like you and want you to feel happy and don’t want you to hate them for being the one to tell you to give up on this already. Also, I’m banging Kim Kardashian.”
I’m not really sure why I automatically pin myself as the amateur instead of the pro. I’m pro, gash dearnit! (like the Minnesotan accent I typed just then?)
I have an inner sense that what I do is professional, high quality, and marketable, and smart. It just never feels like ‘enough’ of any of those things for me to feel confident enough to go out into the world and be like “yeah I’m effing awesome!” because I’ve seen first-hand other people who truly truly feel that without a doubt their offerings are super professional, marketable, talented, whatever word you’d like to use here…and I wince. I don’t want to be their Can’tye West. I see them seemingly throw up their arms (ack I typed throw up! lolz) and say “I don’t know why this isn’t working!” or more defensive things like “well, their loss!” “whatever, they just don’t know talent when they see it” etc. with a bunch of support from friends/family coaxing them on. It’s painful. And I hop on the paranoid express to Crazytown stewing that I’m the same way, even though I have repeated evidence that I’m not.
So how to ditch this self-defeating rapper in the ridiculous shades? Golly who knows, really? I’ve read more ‘inspirational’ material than I feel comfortable admitting, on productivity, profiting as an artist, overcoming fear and self-doubt, being a lightworker and whatever else, searching for some external validation that yes, I am capable. Yes, I can do this. Yes, my offerings to this world are not only totally amazing, but needed and wanted. Yet this voice still haunts me. And that’s probably the key- searching externally instead of changing internally (though lord knows I am trying that too).
I don’t want to be the delusional pie-in-the-sky dreamer who gets deflated by a British guy in a tight gray tee shirt. But I’m also kinda sick of Can’tye’s ego blasting through my mental speakers. Unplug that microphone, dude! You are not that cool!
So yeah. If my stuff is hopeless/crappy/embarrassing/whatever, it truly is my own problem blah blah blah BUT I really hope that someone will have the heart to tell me if I’m metaphorically tonedeaf, someone who’s not living in between my ears deflating my would-be artsy swag. Swart? Ew. Nope that didn’t work. Just encourage me where encouragement is due, but don’t patronize. Pretty please!
Does anyone else have extreme patronization paranoia?