I’ve made a last-minute change to the theme of this week’s blog. Last night, we had a long overdue catch-up with some good friends. At one point, they were asking their son to perform a couple of magic tricks he has been working on lately, though he was reluctant to do so, saying he didn’t want to perform in front of people (despite knowing us well) and was concerned he’d mess it up and potentially not be good enough.
This upset me a little (though I didn’t show it), not least as it reminded me of some of my own issues which I’ve only recently started to conquer, particularly those words ‘I might not be good enough’.
I’ve spent the best part of 25-30 years speaking those words in my mind over and over again. That’s a hell of a long time in which to lack confidence and, at times, not do the things in life which I’ve really wanted to do. It’s only over the past 3-4 years that I’ve started to get much more comfortable in not thinking in this way and ‘putting myself out there’ instead. Examples are the same as I’ve quoted many times in previous blogs – playing guitar in front of people, writing, being more comfortable in selling myself more at work – the list goes on.
Ultimately, I’m sure the root cause of my friend’s son not wanting to do these tricks last night was the same as it is for many of us – a fear of what people will think, or what people might say, or what the reaction from other people will be. Perhaps it’s easier for me to say at my age, with years of experience of this behind me, but what the hell should it matter what others think? Why should that strike fear into our hearts? Why should that prevent us from doing the things we want to in life? In the grand scheme of things, we’re not here for that long. Why should we spend our lives hiding our talents, not trying new things, or lacking the confidence to put ourselves out there? Again, I acknowledge that it can be really difficult to do (and God knows I’ve been there on far too many occasions…) but why shouldn’t we all live the lives we truly want to, doing the things we want to which will ultimately get us to where we want to be and feeling good about ourselves? Surely that’s what life is all about? I still care about what people think – I’m sure most of us do, deep down – but it’s much less important to me than it used to be. If people get on board with anything I’m doing, that’s great. However, if they don’t, I don’t particularly care. I don’t think I’m doing anything that will really offend or upset people so if others are just looking on from a distance, wondering at times why I’m doing what I’m doing, I’m wholly comfortable with that. It’s outside my circle of influence – there’s nothing I can do about it and it really doesn’t matter anyway. It’s been a long, 47-year journey to get to this point, but I’m happy with how things are progressing. I’m happy with what I’m doing right now. I’m also happy with everything I have planned over the coming years, regardless of whether people get on board with me or not. Life is far too short to live with regrets and fear and to let that influence everything we do.
Here’s the kicker to this story. After some gentle encouragement, our friend’s son agreed to do one trick. He was reluctant and quite reserved at first – that much was apparent – but when he got into his flow, he was genuinely brilliant. He came across as being confident, he had the patter off to a tee, he was skilled in what he was doing, and was seemingly a natural. At least, that’s how it came across to us. He did his trick, he got a round of applause, and despite what he was thinking inside, he was certainly good enough. Who’d have thought it? Who’d have thought that our internal voice, the one which plants so many fears and doubts in our minds, is quite often hideously wrong. Please just think about that for a few seconds the next time you are doubting yourself or thinking you’re not quite good enough…
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe and be kind to yourself and others.