Part of being an artist is the occupational hazard of having frequent self-doubt, and constantly feeling like you and your talents aren’t enough. This can be good only if it motivates you to keep going, work smarter, and achieve that ultimate goal. Most of the time though, (or at least from what I’ve observed) we tend to get into these waves of emotional angst, and thoughts creep in that make us put ourselves down. I want to shed light on the fact that every artist needs to be aware of this type of thinking. It will chew you up inside if you dwell on what you perceive as shortcomings, because most of the time, no one else perceives them as shortcomings, or even notices them at all.
A few years ago, I was in a voice lesson, and I kept obsessing over all of the things that I felt were “incorrect” during an aria I had just finished singing. My teacher at the time heard many good things in that aria that were signs of vocal progress, and was amazed that I couldn’t find one positive thing to say. “Do you treat anyone as badly as you treat yourself?” She asked. I can still hear her voice saying it in my head. It was such an eye opener. The answer to that question, is no, of course not. I’m not as judgmental, nit-picky, and as demanding of perfection when it comes to others’ performances. That would make being an audience member an awful experience. If you are TOO hard on yourself, you make being an artist/performer unbearable. Why do we do this?
All singers have insecurities, I’m sure, whether they are related to outward appearances, the way he or she sounds, the way he or she moves onstage, etc. There are so many elements that go into being an artist and we all hold ourselves to a certain, perhaps subjective, standard of performance. However, the more we obsess over these insecurities and allow them to have a big presence in our day-to-day thinking, the outcome is usually quite detrimental, and being an artist becomes burdensome. Isn’t this your calling, to be a singer, dancer, actor, painter, etc? Why would you torture yourself constantly? Our brains’ negative thinking can really do a number on our emotions at times- one thought leads to another and all of a sudden you become the ugliest, worst-sounding, least successful singer on the planet. The reality of it is that no audience member will be as hard on you as you are on yourself.
So, to any artist who is reading this: As you go through your journey as a creator, check those insecure thoughts and don’t let them consume you. Be aware of them, work smarter to improve upon them, but don’t waste too much energy obsessing over them. You need that energy to create. The world wants to see what you have, don’t be selfish with your gift.
By the way, you know when you are nervous before you go onstage, but once you are out there, the negative feelings go away and you remember how amazing performing actually feels while adrenaline rushes through you, and it becomes fun? Hold onto THAT. The energy connected to enjoyment is contagious – the audience can feel it. I promise you – you are enough.