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Count to three go on two

By Aaron in : Blog // Mar 23 2011

“What am I really afraid of?” is a question that has been going through my mind a lot lately.

Years ago, when I was wannabe freestyle skier, building jumps at Bridger Bowl with my friends, we had a philosophy: make the decision to do the trick. Entirely commit – then count to three but GO on two.

Recently, that philosophy has become a part of my daily life again.  If I was afraid to talk to a girl, I would make it a point to commit to myself that I would approach her – then count to three, GO on two.  If I had a business phone call I hadn’t been making because I was nervous about the interaction, I would make the call in the midst of the fear – count to three, GO on two. If I was scared to say something I really wanted to say to a friend – count to three GO on two. Apply this to asking someone to dance… or getting up in front of people and dancing (something I am always terrified of)… or asking for jobs and raises… even going for a kiss… count to three, GO on two.

This has been something I’ve been practicing (on and off) for almost exactly a year now, and the results have been astonishing.

But still, “What am I REALLY afraid of?” has been burning at the back of my mind.

Let me explain: Music has been my “real” job for nearly 2 and a half years now. I’d played some gigs back in the day, but in January of 09, I had my first real breakthrough into making a living at it.  It’s been an absolute thrill to be able to do something I love with so much of my time and life.  The conundrum is that while it’s great to be able to do this, what I really want to do is to find the audience that is looking for what I do, and deliver.

Every now and then I get the chance.  I get to play a show where it’s all about the performance. I pick songs that I think will move the listening room, and give everything I have, and I can feel my music touching the audience in the way that great artists’ music touched me as a kid. I LIVE for that stuff!

So lately I’ve spent a LOT of my free time in an attempt to do more to build / find my audience so that I can do this as an artist, rather than just a background performer.  I’ve been applying for showcases and festivals, sending my music to producers and film and TV opportunities, taking courses, and reading books on marketing music etc… this stuff is EVERYTHING to me.

The funny thing is that I’ve missed a few important deadlines for big opportunities that my music was perfectly suited for.  I have several great performance videos that I have yet to upload to YouTube. There are a few small changes that I’ve wanted to make on my website for months that would make a BIG difference in its effectiveness, and I simply have not taken the time. There are so many things falling through the cracks, and while this could be understandable based on my busy show schedule and other responsibilities, I started to realize… there’s more to it than that.  So I asked myself a bunch of questions and all my answers came back to one thing:

Fear.

What am I REALLY afraid of?

Let me tell you… and keep in mind this is more revelatory and personal than I’ve ever gotten with anything public.

I’m afraid that I’ll pour my heart and soul into this and it won’t be enough… I’m afraid that I’ll put it all out there and hear crickets… I’m afraid I’ll book a big show and not sell a damn ticket. I’m afraid that I’m somehow blinded to the poor quality of my music. I think I’ve written some pretty incredible stuff lately, but sometimes I wonder if I’m way short of the mark, and I only think it’s good because it’s mine.

Obviously the extremity of this line of thought is illogical, and it’s not something I think about consciously.  No… consciously, I’m all about making moves and getting it out there so I have a “shot.”  But then I wonder why I would do entirely counterintuitive stuff, and when I’m really honest with myself, it’s clear, that I’m subconsciously afraid of failure and rejection in a macro sense. Having someone shut me down for a show or a date doesn’t scare me at all, but having the whole world hear my music, my life’s work so far, and greet it with total silence terrifies me to my core.

Now I’m not under the impression that I’m unique in this.  It’s really the way many many people live… they unconsciously avoid moving forward in certain things, because of all of their absurdly unrealistic, worst-case-senario “what ifs.” No, I’m not unique here.  It’s just that in recognizing this pattern, I’m beginning to see the folly in trying to avoid those things in the first place.

This is really the first time that I’ve “gotten” this. I asked my friend a couple of nights ago how he handled it.  He had been through some similar challenges when it came to really working on big projects where he had to put himself on the line.  He simply told me. “You can’t beat the fear. Just accept it.  Say ‘I’m ok with totally failing. Now I’m gonna get to work.’”

I have always believed that it’s better to take a shot on myself and come up short, than to pretend that the dream isn’t there and live a different life.  But in some ways, despite my success in certain areas, that’s been a bit of what I’ve done.  I’m making a living playing, which is pretty awesome in and of itself.  But I’m constantly aware at the back of my mind, that what I want is to find my audience, share my music, and make a difference.

So this is my commitment to everyone who supports me.

I am taking a BIG shot on myself starting now.

It’s not that I’m not grateful for where I am, but if I’m honest I’ll only really be living if I go for more.  So I’m ok with falling hard on my ass and having to get back up and dust myself off. I’m ok with sprinting against the wind.  I’m ok with knots in my stomach and fear in my heart, because no fear, no rejection, no failure is enough to keep me from this.  This is, and for as far as I can see, will continue to be… the heart of my life.

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