I don’t really know any musicians that fit in to the stereotype pretentious, cocky rockstar mold; maybe that’s just because I don’t really know any rockstars. In fact, everybody I know has pretty much the opposite problem, and is trying day by day to wrench themselves free of the gravitational pull of insecurity in their hearts in order to be motivated to create something.
Insecurity is by far the greatest obstacle that hinders our creative potential, far more than whatever we sometimes think the problem really is: whether lack of money, lack of connections, or lack of the big hit. It saps our best energy. It keeps you from taking your chances to get up behind the microphone. It keeps your great songs hidden in your notebooks. It comes in all shapes and flavors, and the good news is that even though not one of us will ever grow out of it (not even the rockstars actually), you can learn to not be controlled by it, and I want to suggest just one thing you can do to help in the new year: create something, and then share it.
Because it seems like people like reading lists, here’s a list of good reasons you should do this:
1.) It’s therapeutic. Making music is good for your soul. You love doing it, and it makes you a better, more enjoyable person to be around. Working hard in an area of your passions is intrinsically rewarding, as it should be.
2.) It makes you better, both as a musician and as a person that’s learning to not be controlled by insecurity. Your best learning comes by doing. I promise you won’t get better by sitting on your ass, and you won’t get better by keeping stuff to yourself. If you share your dumb stuff, (which is truly only sorta dumb and sorta ok), something magical happens where over time you gain perspective on it, on what’s good and bad about it, and this is how you get better.
3.) You won’t regret it. For real, I have put out lots of dumb, bad sounding stuff – like, the most embarrassing kind of trying to be artsy, overly earnest, bad stuff. Weird thing is: they just don’t bother me. In fact, even though I hear all the mistakes, I still love them in their own way. Those songs are documents of a place and a time and a feeling, and of course your feelings at 17 are dumb. I put them on and jam to them, and that’s pretty narcissistic and I don’t care.
4.) Everyone needs encouragement. One thing that will happen when you put stuff out is people will tell you it’s good, regardless of whether it totally is. This is good because you need it. Insecurity makes you defensive, and one of the ways to grow in that area of life is to let people encourage you. People will tell you your music is good either because they really like it or just because they like you. Honestly, I’m fine with either.
Of all the times in history to be motivated to do something, this has got to be the best. Every day, thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, are sharing their awful songs and painful singing and terrible playing on the internet, and people are watching it and telling them it’s cool, and some of those people are being genuine. Why are you still sitting there, working on a song, hearing the voice of the most negative person you know in your head telling you it sucks? (Am I the only person that this happens to?) Insecurity doesn’t get better by giving in to it. Quit dragging your feet and do something. That’s it.
PS – I have been working on a record of my own tunes for over two years, and I’m putting it out in the next few months, for real. Hold me to it.