I let it happen. I could feel my face flush, my stomach tie up in knots, and the tears begin to well up in my eyes. We were deep into the second day of the training summit that I attended in California, and I was the oldest- no, wait- the most experienced person there in a room full of tech savvy twenty and thirty-year-old musicians. Instead of taking each bit of information one at a time to process as I’d promised myself I’d do, I let the enormity of what I don’t know or understand wash over me. It wasn’t pretty.
Fear: 1/ Denise: 0.
I hate, hate, feeling stupid or less-than. It’s a character flaw, really. I especially dislike it when that feeling stupid has something to do with my career. I can handle feelings of inferiority or failure if I’m learning to do something way out of my wheelhouse, like anything to do with math or physics, but music? I’ve worked too hard to be successful to take that well. I also have a strong genetic predisposition to shy away from that which is new and different (I am my mother’s daughter, after all). This summit was for musicians and dealt with teaching and music (totally in my wheelhouse), but there was a large component that involved computer programs, spreadsheets, inventory….my eyes glazed over at just the thought of it all.
My students can well attest- I can rock word documents, emails, texting (except for my big thumbs mis-typing much of the time), but anything more advanced than that, and I freeze. I didn’t grow up with that technology, and it intimidates the hell out of me. I want to learn more about it all- really I do. But, when it happens in mass quantities all at one time in front of musical colleagues…it’s a direct invitation for Fear to come along for a ride.
With a couple of days of space from the event and lots of great talks with Dan, I’m beginning to gain some much-needed perspective. I have a friend who is a nurse in a busy city O.R. who is having to be trained on a bunch of new technology, too. She deals with helping to save people’s lives. That’s a big deal. I am just a stressed-out clarinet player who needs more time to learn some new skills. Nobody will be hurt if I make a few mistakes at first (just my pride). It’s time for me to yet again chill out, breathe, and dive into the new and unfamiliar- and to remember that tons of people are dealing with a boatload of things more stressful than I am on any given day.
I am working on reframing my feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy from this past weekend. Instead of beating myself up for what I don’t know or can’t do (yet!), I’m trying instead to remind myself of what I am good at; being a hard-working plugger who has come a long way in my fifty-three years facing many things that scared the bejeezus out of me at first. And those things that scared me so badly? Pretty much on every single occasion, I grew from my battle with Fear. I’m going to do my darnedest to insure that this time is no different.
Denise: 1/ Fear: Down for the count