A thought has been occurring to me lately and I want to share it with you now: There is nothing to be afraid of.
Oh sure, there are a lot of things that we let ourselves be afraid of… but in the end, there really is nothing much to be afraid of. We’re born, we live, we die, and in the middle we have this thing called life that we’re meant to enjoy. Soak in the sun. Grow, blossom, spread our seed, etc.
So from this point forward I want you to join me in dropping the fear and moving forward towards achieving your dreams. Say it with me: “I will no longer be afraid!” Now, I don’t make this statement lightly, mind you. If we’re being honest, I’m afraid of a lot of shit…
…I’m afraid to perform in front of large crowds of people I don’t know.
…I’m afraid to sing in front of my guitar teacher.
…I’m afraid to tell people that this “guitar thing” is more than a hobby to me, because they define me by the 9-5 gig that I currently go to on Monday mornings.
…I’m afraid that I’m too old, and that a grown-up adult beginner has no business hoping to become a professional guitarist.
…I’m afraid that ten years have gone by and I haven’t made the album I always talked about.
…I’m afraid another ten years will go by and I’ll still be sitting here on my couch trying to play “Etude #3” in this beginner guitar book.
I’m… just… afraid.
Now, I fully realize you might be looking at this brief list of my fears and be thinking, “Oh, boy, Albo has lost it…” but these irrational fears are very real to me. I’m sure you have a demon or two in your closet that need excising. We all do.
The problem with my list of fears, however, is that I’ve let them hold me back for so long even though I can admit they’re stupid. Just straight-up dumb. I let them hold some ridiculous imaginary power over me and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to face them. But at least I am facing them now. In fact, this blog is part of that journey of overcoming my fears and becoming the person I was meant to be.
And as it occurred to me during a practice session one night, if I’m going to become a true professional at this craft, I’m going to need to practice both my playing ability as well as my confidence to perform.
I need to overcome my fears.
I will no longer be afraid.
Why do we have any fear in the first place?
I suppose there is some biological reason for humans to have fear, but as far as I can tell, that really only pertains to life or death situations (so, for sake of argument, if you are facing something that could truly lead to your untimely demise, then yes, you have permission to fear it). Last time I checked, however, playing guitar never lead to one’s death.
Performing in front of a crowd as surely led to some instances of stage fright, but again, no one that I know of has actually died from stepping on the stage.
You may have been fired from a gig, or released an album that bombed, or gotten booed by a gang of 6-year olds at the local library for messing up a verse of I knew an old woman who lived in a shoe… but, again, no one died.
But I digress…
Rather than debate the reasons fear exists, or doesn’t exist, or shouldn’t exist, or whatever, the real question here is Why do we let ourselves succumb to fear, anyway? If you want to learn an instrument, do it. I don’t care what age you are. I don’t care what level you’re at. Just do it. A writer writes. A player plays. Just do it.
If you’ve wanted to perform in front of a crowd, but have given in to stage fright, say it with me: “I will no longer be afraid” and call a place to book your next gig. Or play an open mic. Or set up in the park and just start wailing. There’s always a venue. and there will always be a crowd, if you’re willing to drop the fear and start playing.
If you’ve wanted to play in a band, go out and find other musicians that have similar interests and/or at similar abilities. You may have just started playing and kinda suck… guess what, there is someone out there that sucks the same as you; find each other.
You may have progressed to an intermediate level and ready to produced some serious music with others… yup, those people are out there too; go find them. Or maybe you’re finally at a point where you can hang with the best of them, but have never left the studio; put yourself out there.
In the end, I guarantee you’ll look back and appreciate the moments in your life when you took action without letting fear hold you back. If you’re like the rest of us, you likely made it through the obstacles in front of you and, once on the other side, realized it wasn’t so bad… perhaps thinking, What the hell was I so afraid of??
Here at grownupguitarist.com, we are on a journey. We are out to ask the question, “Can a grown-up really learn to master the guitar?” And together, we will not stop until we have answered it with a resounding YES.
And along the way I’m sure there will be many fears to face. Many mountains to climb, many rivers to cross, many hurdles to overcome.
But that’s OK. “I will no longer be afraid!”