On Which Fear Takes the Upper Hand (But Not for Long)

The pace at which I appear to learn sometimes…

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


4 thoughts on “On Which Fear Takes the Upper Hand (But Not for Long)

  1. You awesome lady❣ You are a professional at what you do—teaching and performing—and nothing can take that away or diminish it one iota! I totally understand your fear of technology. At my job they gave us computers and things started happening fast! More to learn and more to do and, really, it comes more naturally to some. But we bullheaded types get it, we just need more practice, and I know you are familiar with practice! ☺️ And as a wise therapist told me years ago, what will happen if you don’t do it/get it right away? Absolutely nothing! Learn it at your own pace and don’t worry!
    Live you❣

  2. I know just what you mean Denise. I just got through a technical training/update in my job. I’ve always been so un-mechanically minded;so why did I choose a profession where I have to know how to fix equipment? I’ve had to learn to put the fear in its place;beat it down so to speak. Still whenever I am faced with a new wrinkle, my first reaction is “oh no,I’ll never be able to do this”!!!.

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