Teenage Dream – Part 3Impostor Syndrome
When was the last time you achieved something you didn’t think yourself capable of?
Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
– David Bowie
A fortnight ago, I told you how I’d decided 2017 would be a year of “musical performance”. (If you’re picking up the story here, you may want to take a few minutes to read part 1 and part 2.) I’d set out to find jam sessions and friends to play with at home. And then, out of the blue, my teacher, Sass had mentioned a friend of his who was looking for a drummer. Things only got better.
Smitha was the friend in question. A super-talented singer-songwriter from South London, with a voice like butter and some beautifully haunting songs. With some trepidation, I picked up the phone to find out more. By the end of the call, I was having palpitations. Smitha was looking for a drummer, not just for any concert. It was for a concert on the main stage of a festival. Not just any festival but Jimmy’s Farm, a venue with a capacity of thousands. I tried to sound composed and emitted the odd “Hmmm… cool.”
In a movie, this is when you see a rush of excitement and cool music starts blurting out, right? Not so for me. Deep down, my inner critic had woken up from its slumber, feeling refreshed and invigorated. It was having a wild time! I would fail the audition. I couldn’t possibly pull that off! That voice, the music, the size of the audience… and then little old me. No way. And I barely had any experience of playing the drums in public! Besides, I hadn’t assembled a traditional drum kit in years. I took a few deep breaths and tried to remind myself that we’d only arranged an audition for now. Two people meeting and playing music together.
I also had to remind myself of the Impostor Syndrome which afflicts so many of us, especially women. Faced with a job description, we tend to feel that we can only apply if we check every box of pre-requisites, whilst men happily apply when their experience is way below what it sought after. Once again, I took to my journal. I told “it” what thoughts were going through my mind.
Here’s roughly what it looked like:
1.I’m going to fail and I’ll make a fool of myself, Smitha will be annoyed that I’ve wasted her time. Sass will be embarrassed to have recommended me.
2. I’ll never be ready for the audition and I will be really disappointed in myself.
3. What if Smitha thinks I’m defacing her music? Will she be angry?
Then, I took each item and looked for an answer:
1. I might not be the drummer Smitha is looking for, but we may enjoy playing together. I might even have some ideas she likes.
2. Instead of thinking about the audition as a test to cram for, why not think of it as a jam. I learn the music and put some ideas together, then all I need to do on the day is be in the moment and enjoy.
3. I probably wouldn’t deface Smitha’s music, but simply be a bit too bland. The more I relax, the more I can be creative. Think of it as a game.
Needless to say, I felt relieved to have this reassuring conversation with myself – time and time again, I have used this journaling technique, sometimes reluctantly at first, but it’s always been incredibly helpful. I committed to remaining positive. I decided to think of the audition as a privilege and an opportunity for growth. Organising the audition: one point. Taking the audition: two points. I could only win!
Preparing for the audition was a cocktail of excitement, confidence, procrastination, mortification, elation, cold sweat and laughter. The best part was having an excuse to listen to Smitha’s music in a loop. It was so beautiful, so moving, so much fun. I found myself singing along to her music in the shower and waking up with the songs in my head. I’d never really thought of this as being part of trying to join a band. The creative indulgence of diving deep into music and looking for sounds to add to the intention of the songwriter. I was thrilled.
Smitha turned up for the audition. We spent the afternoon talking and playing. It went alright. I felt I didn’t play particularly well and my drums weren’t amplified properly so a lot of what I was playing was crushed. I was disappointed and wanted to hide in a shell underneath my bed. And then, I did something terrible. I’d been resisting and resisting it, but then I blurted it out:
“I think you might want to look for a drummer who has more experience in funk/soul/Motown music.”
I basically told Smitha I wasn’t right for her band. Ouch. It sent me back to a very challenging job interview and test I’d taken three years before. I’d been really ballsy and applied for something that took me way out of my comfort zone. I hadn’t done well, but I’d done it and rather than feeling proud of my achievement, I felt ashamed of my work. When the interviewer asked me how I thought I’d performed, I gave her a ten point list of how I’d failed and concluded: “I don’t think I’m the person you need right now.” Nice work.
But this time, fate smiled at me. Smitha was keen for me to join the band, and after having kicked myself for sabotaging my efforts, I regrouped and decided I should fight for it. I didn’t need to fight. I was in. “In!”. Me, the outsider.
And, without even meaning to, I set things in motion for the “Winter Cruise or Winter Blues” project I’d talked to you about back in January.
“You have 8-10 weeks ahead of you, so rather than pray for the spring, how about kick-starting the year by deep diving into a passion of yours? Think about something, which tickles your fancy – an interest, which you think of as an indulgence, or even a crazy dream – we all need to escape at times!”
I was all set for an exciting Winter Cruise! Stay tuned for the next installment of the Teenage Dream Series.
Now, I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts by using the comments section below, or email me at charlotte(at)astoryworthliving.com.
- When was the last time an amazing opportunity came your way?
- Do you ever walk right past opportunities, assuming they’re not right for you?
- Would you challenge yourself to dare more for a week?
If you think one of your friends could do with some inspiration, please share this post with them.
Thank you for reading!