As a professional musician I’ve signed up for a life of taking risks and being vulnerable.
Even though I’ve had a lot of practice living this way, I still experience the butterflies, doubts, and fears that go along with it.
Sharing my heart and soul while fully knowing it may be rejected by others is a shaky place to be.
No matter what our creativity is calling us to do (whether it be writing, playing music, gardening, dancing, acting, planning an event, arranging flowers, cooking etc.), it can be something that requires a bold step toward the unknown and a willingness to risk the possibility of failure.
As humans, we’re hard-wired to look for the safe situation. We try to control our environments, wanting to know exactly how things will turn out and how people will view us.
But there is also a part of us that longs for creating and experiencing the new, the unknown.
A tension develops inside between wanting to take risks in order to live true, and wanting to play it safe so we can fit into society quietly and neatly.
But when it comes to our creative expression, we basically have to be vulnerable and take risks.
Over time, I’ve grown accustomed to the shaky feeling of putting myself out there. For the most part I just ‘do it anyway,’ but I’ve also used these strategies to help me along the way:
1) Cultivate a “tolerance of uncertainty.” The higher our tolerance for the unknown and uncertain, the greater our capacity to be creative.
2) Notice how “excited” and “nervous” are similar. Both these states can manifest with an elevated heart rate, heightened alertness, tingling or fluttering feeling in our bellies, quicker breaths, and a feeling of anticipation. Next time you’re nervous, consider interpreting it as excitement and see how that shifts your attitude toward taking a risk.
3) Instead of pushing them away, move closer to your nervous feelings. Consider which risk scares you the most: the risk of feeling rejected; the risk of looking “stupid” or “silly”; the risk of making others feel envious or bad about themselves when we’re doing what we’re called to do and living our truth; or the risk of appearing to be “too much” or thinking too highly of ourselves.
4) Ask yourself if you can ignore your creative desires and still be true to yourself?
5) Be willing to fail or to appear silly. All great creators have been unsuccessful, failed and appeared ridiculous to others who have judged them harshly. But they have “done it anyway”—and great things resulted.
6) Ask yourself if you’re willing to allow your nervous/fearful feelings determine your future. Are you okay with staying safe? (you may indeed be—and that’s okay too).
7) Call on a source bigger than yourself. Even though I’ve befriended many of my fears, I still have those nervous moments; so I say a little prayer that the energy be used for the greater good of the music, and for everyone.
If you’re still feeling shaky, you are not alone!
I’ve recently taken the leap of launching a crowdfunding campaign for my next album. Not only is it a creative risk, but I’ve asked my community to help make this a reality—a vulnerable space indeed! But when I trust in myself, interpret my butterflies as excitement, acknowledge my fears and doubts and “do it anyway”, everything flows into place.
One of the greatest results of persevering in the face of fear and uncertainty is the satisfaction of knowing I’ve been true to myself.
And you, creative Soul, can be true to yourself too!
Are you facing a risk right now, of stepping into something new or different? Have you overcome fears and ‘done it anyway’—or not quite yet? I’d love to continue the conversation, in the comments below. I hope we get the chance to sing together soon.