Some of the youth I know are preparing for Battle of The Bands, and for one of them this is the first time she’s performing in front of people. She loves to play music. She loves the people she plays with. But right now, three weeks out from a three-song set in front of all her peers, she just wishes it was over.
She can’t see any outcome other than the one in which the other bands are all better and the crowd boos them offstage. She’s confident these 10 minutes will prove to everyone that her musical dreams are misplaced and that she’s nothing but a poseur. The misery she’s putting herself through now is as if those things have already happened.
I told her that winning in this case is just getting on stage and shredding. Winning isn’t the cheering crowd. Winning isn’t even the Battle of The Bands crown. In this case, winning is showing up and doing the thing you love while your knees are wobbling and you feel like puking.
We don’t get to pick what grows from our acts of personal courage, and I have no doubt that more grows than our dread can imagine. We conjure images of important people disapproving, but I suspect there’s fertile soil in the audience we’re not accounting for, people who live with their own fear and who will take courage from yours, people who need some imperfection and the raw delivery that only the terrified can summon.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then shred.