Over the years I‘ve had a weird and unhealthy relationship with performing. I always felt like i never chose this life. It chose me. And because I ‘didn‘t have a choice’ I felt unqualified to make music b/c I hadn‘t been trained traditionally. My biggest fear was (and is) playing in front of other musicians b/c it was the one place people would listen to me with critical ears and I would ultimately be exposed for being an ‘imposter‘ – someone who has no idea whether shes playing a Gsus or G7 or Gwhatever. Someone who is faking it until she makes it.
It‘s a weird feeling thinking of all the doors that have opened up over the past year – wondering how it happened and worrying whether or not I will ‘mess it up‘. These days I have learned to ask myself a very important question when I get off stage after a ‘bad‘ set: “What do I think happened and what actually happened?“ Reality and perception are two very different things, and often we confuse them and make them the same. This question has really helped to steer me away from those moments when all I wanna do is rip myself apart and say “YOU SUCK! You shouldn‘t be here. They only clapped b/c that‘s what they‘re supposed to do“. If there is one thing I know now, it‘s that musicians make mistakes…all the time. They just get better at hiding them :) If there is anything else I know, it‘s that the more you practice, the better you get. These are two facts that I wish the 21-year old version of me knew 11 years ago, although to be honest, I‘m not sure it would have saved me from any of my episodes of self-deprecation.
I‘ve also begun to tell myself one other thing (this time before I get on stage): “this show is not about you. you are simply the messenger delivering the message. Someone needs to be encouraged. Someone else needs to access a buried emotion. Someone else just really needs to have a good time tonight. Help them do that with your music.“ Reminding myself of this keeps me from wallowing in self pity, constantly apologizing on stage for my imperfections, and making awkward comments to distract people from the fact that I’m very uncomfortable. Over the years, I’ve frozen up on stage out of the fear that I wouldn’t perform flawlessly (ironic), I’ve kept to myself b/c I felt I wasn’t good enough to associate with certain people of a higher musical caliber, I’ve made one apology after another after another.
So you played a song and you hit a wrong note…or two…or three. It’s ok. Now they all know you’re human. When it comes down to it, music makes people happy, it enriches their lives. And it’s your gift to give to the world. Don’t hoard it. Everybody already knows you’re not perfect, but it finally becomes fun when you accept it.