Holding Back?

I’d like to introduce a short piece of writing on an issue that isn’t just related to music but one that has an impact on my life and has for many years. It’s an issue that I wish didn’t affect me but it does. In fact it has a direct effect on my career and personal life. It’s something that many people live with on a day to day basis, particularly creative people. Some creative people me being one of them tend to have perhaps too much sensitivity coupled with self and social awareness. This post is about my own sensitivities, self consciousness, vulnerability and insecurities that I face when confronted with a situation that could improve my career or even my life.
Waiver: I’m fully aware this is somewhat self indulgent and that there are far more important issues to deal with in the world but my intention is to articulate my own personal struggle and not to upset, infuriate or alienate whomever may read this. I’m simply exorcising my demons, shining some light on them, and perhaps wearing far too much of my heart on my sleeve?

I’m currently sat on a cool retro chair in a wonderful apartment style hotel room in Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles,CA. That is pretty good by anyones standards! Nothing bad has happened to me today at all. I’ve ventured out into the world of LA, walked all around the famous Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard sites. Had a Philly steak sandwich and fries at a Brazilian Grill bar and bought some hippy supplies from a Trader Joe’s (new experiences galore!). But, as I’m walking round and seeing all these famous landmarks I’m beginning to feel increasingly small and insignificant.

Seeing (from the outside!) a studio like Sunset Sound and the Capitol records building (which is literally a stone’s throw from our hotel) should be for someone like myself pretty exciting and inspirational and an opportunity to go in and make connections perhaps. However, as I stood outside these places I hold in such high regard a familiar feeling started to come over me. A feeling of paralysing inability to actively experience them from the inside!
I may not yet be one of the top producer/engineers in the world but I feel I’ve earned my stripes, put in the time and know how to create a well received likeable if not loveable music based product.

So why do I still feel somewhat incapable of reaching out to places like these that may or may not help me in reaching the next step on my career path?

Some would say it’s a confidence issue but I don’t think it is. I may not shout the loudest in most situations but, on subjects I have some knowledge (mainly music) I rarely hold back my views and opinions. Something is clearly preventing me from going into these places and asking “What goes on here?”, “May I have a look around?” I really wanted to walk into the Los Angeles Recording School in particular and say who I was and what I did an enquire about the syllabuses and such like….. but I couldn’t!!…….I played the scenario out in my head over and over. Other than them showing a total lack of interest, what was the worst thing they could have said? But would the lack of interest even have happened though? It’s doubtful but maybe that’s it, maybe I just look for the worst in some situations and play the negative scenario out in my mind instead of being positive and going for it?
It seems I decide without trying that it’s not worth the hassle and embarrassment and walk away indignant so to speak. Go figure!!
Is it something in my DNA/genetic make up or my upbringing that prevents me from doing what I need to do in order to succeed? How does one overcome such disabling habits? I sometimes try to find excuses such as “it must be the way I look or something I’ve said”. At times I’ve over analysed my last statement so much so that if I perceive it’s something remotely dumb or naive the embarrassment from what I just said actually becomes almost physically painful.
This also happens in my writing both written word and musically. I over analyse to the point of stifling any creativity I may have enjoyed feeling when I started. The flow of writing on a certain point I was trying to make, or musical journey I was trying to create gets stuck in the analytical process of judgement against the literary and musical standards I suddenly insist I must reach. I’m doing it now as I type this! Are other people actually making those kind of judgements about me, my personality or creative ability?
Or is it me making those presumptions and assumptions about myself? Quite clearly it’s ME.
If only I could find a way to manage these thoughts or habits (because that is what they are) and turn the energy they consume into something that actually helps me to progress within my chosen field.
As a by product I’m almost certain I would find some inner peace and satisfaction in other areas of my life along the way. Obviously there IS a disconnect somewhere in my ever increasingly tumultuous psyche that needs to be resolved. But how?
Over the years I’ve tried to utilise several of the techniques designed to quell these feelings of emotional and physical dissatisfaction (many suggested by my very talented wife Sara who happens to be very knowledgeable and adept in this area and is dragging me to a Heart Summit in Amsterdam so I can explore all of this in more detail) but none have stuck with me longer than a couple of weeks however much they helped at the time…….is this the problem? Can I not resolve my issues due to impatience and lack of belief? Either self belief or belief in the comprehensive proven research of others?
I deduce then I have to do one of two things at this point. Understand that I have to accept and trust some of the techniques I’ve attempted to use in the past and do everything I can to combat these fears OR live with them and accept I may never progress? Working in the music industry this is not a particularly good affliction to have seen as it’s incredibly competitive and usually based on personality and connections more than talent and reliability! I, just like countless other producers and engineers, writers and musicians have firsthand experience of the cut throat nature of the business.
All I want is to succeed and be able to create opportunities that enable me to pursue the career I’ve dreamt of since I was a child, reach my full potential and achieve my life’s ambition.
This will only be possible though if I can prevent my insecurities from stopping me taking the steps to making this a reality. I also need to not get wound up by my own mind chatter regarding other peoples business practises. Probably a subject for another post perhaps?!!!
I must admit I’m doing ok, not great, just ok, I’ve had some minor success and critical acclaim for some of the work I’ve produced and the more well received work I do produce the higher my profile gets.
So what is actually holding me back?
We’re all familiar with the saying: “it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know”. I’m sure to some extent this is true but all that can change on the toss of the right coin or if you’re in the music industry (and particularly my side of the industry) if you have just one huge world wide hit!! Also “right place, right time” another cliched saying that probably rings true here.
Quite possibly the real true underlying source of these feelings is that I just don’t want to be fake. My ambition and tenacity were a topic of ridicule to some people close to me throughout my adolescence and this has possibly led on to something that happens on occasion when someone asks what I do for a living? I reply with either Recording Engineer (which immediately I have to explain what that is) or I say Record producer. The latter term instantly makes my skin crawl and I feel like a fraud or I project that the person asking the question thinks I’m full of shit. I swear I can almost hear them thinking: “yeah! sure you are mate!”. Obviously I need to come up with a job title that doesn’t have this effect on me!
Is the title and description I give, something I need to validate to myself in order to fully feel capable of accomplishing my ultimate goal? I generally like to think of myself as a socially aware and socially sensitive type of person. I notice what is occurring around me (perhaps a little too much sometimes and occasionally to my detriment). I have values and views that presumably don’t offend many people but I will defend those views and values if I feel the need. One thing I’ve noticed though is…… I often don’t feel the need to defend them. If someone is adamant that they are right and what they say is correct then that’s not my issue. It’s also not in my nature to belittle someone else’s view or value unless I strongly disagree or don’t understand their context. Is this yet another reason for my inability to face my own short comings and foibles? Should I be more challenging even if I haven’t got an informed opinion on a given subject? And if I claim to have an informed opinion on that particular subject which I’m now challenging how do I know if the source of that information is correct? In all honesty I want to be me and be accepted as me.
This takes me back to my past again where I wasn’t allowed to have thoughts of wanting to be successful in music. “Know where you come from” was what I was often told. My roots are important to me but they are just that….. roots. My beginning in life. Where I was nurtured into adulthood. They are not my life now and are actually many of the things I’ve kicked against in order to become a creative individual. I do not want to live by constraints of the past. This post is fast becoming some form of cathartic exercise which I’m happy to let it develop into if the truth be known. These are issues I’ve thought about for years and I don’t actually think I’ve ever had a platform in which to explore them. As I communicated earlier in the post the written word is not my forte, which is unfortunate as at times I do feel I have things to say and writing things down, it must be said, is a pretty efficient way of scrutinising your thoughts plus a foolproof way of repeatedly expressing your ideas.
I’m not entirely sure if this makes any sense at all but I feel I’ve expressed several matters of contention here that have lived with me for quite a long time. It’s been quite a journey! It’s probably from a writers point of view a very disjointed journey but you know what?………….I don’t really care. If there was to be a conclusion to this which there may or may not be it would probably be to stop editing oneself so much, care not what other people may or may not think of you and follow your heart and dive into the world…..your world!
If you are struggling with any of the issues described in this post the recommend person to contact is www.sarajsanderson.com
Ta ta for now. D.

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