I almost quit.
“It’s too much work,” said the little voice in my head. “No one wants to read what you have to say anyway,'' said another. “No one will care if you don’t do this,” chimed in a third… and suddenly they were on a roll. Brene’ Brown calls them “shame gremlins” (and I find that name and description perfect). Depending on the project, they can be tiny, annoying soft voices, but sometimes, they get bigger and louder the more self-doubt, fear, and shame I feed them. Some days I feel like they take up so much space in my life, they barely leave me room to breath. Other days they are like flies, annoying me and testing my patience. But regardless of how big they are, or what they are saying, I have found the only way to deal with them is to acknowledge that they exist, tell them “thank you for sharing but I’m going to do this anyway” and then get back to doing the work.
This time it was about the blog. Yep, this one. It’s only week 2 and I almost gave up. I have 5 half written posts that I did this week and probably two dozen drafts of posts that I have created over the last couple of years - plenty of writing for sure, and yet I still considered quitting. Last week I was so excited, but then the reality that it was going to be work set in. And even though I’m not one who’s typically afraid of hard work, I still felt discouraged.
But, rather than pretending like everything was fine, I decided to take the time to talk about “quitting” and hopefully, in the process, settle my shame gremlins down and help my fellow Brave musicians who may struggle with the same thing.
I suspect that many people go thru something similar. It’s really interesting to me what happens when we get excited about something new, set ourselves on a course to do it and then eventually realize that it’s going to take a lot of work, and then give up.
In music, that new thing could be practicing, recording something, writing a song, learning a new technique, or even getting started learning a new instrument. At first it’s exciting. It’s new. The thought of what “could be” is fresh and motivating. Then reality sets in: “This is challenging and I’m going to have to work at it before I get any good” and suddenly we’re frustrated, procrastinating, discouraged, and unenthusiastic. We think maybe it was a bad idea. We start to doubt.
But the reality is that whatever you do, it’s going to take work. Lots of work. We know that they only way to do something well, is to practice. We know deep down that we are going to be bad at it for a while. But we still want to avoid it. I’m sure there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to look back at this blog a year from now and think “Oh, I can’t believe I wrote that.” But it’s probably unavoidable, if I want to keep this blog going. (which I do!) I’m going to grow, learn, change, and things that I thought or felt are not going to be relevant to me any longer. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get them down now, because...
… the only way forward is through.
Whether it’s writing a blog or learning a song or anything new that we try to do, there’s no way around the “doing” part, the work part. So when you feel that discouragement and you want to give up, know that it’s ok to feel that way and it’s OK to struggle. Sometimes we forget that things are not always easy. Keep moving forward, keep trying.
Write another word. You can change it later. Practice that line a few more times. Listen again. Write those lyrics, or that melody, or those beats. Don’t quit. Keep going. And I’ll do the same.