Stop Waiting For Permission To Be You

Recently, my partner caught me off guard when he asked:

“Do you still have the same drive for music?”

I suddenly felt the lump in my throat and while I couldn’t recall exactly what I responded with, I know no matter what I said wasn’t exactly how I felt. The question was simple but I knew deep down that my answer was much more complex.

Photo by author

I spent the majority of my life fantasizing about the large tour bus, running around beautiful stages with even more ornate productions. These larger-than-life visions started somewhere around 5 and never did I notice the dreams truly start to dissipate until this year. Until the pandemic.

But did the dream dissipate or is it just changing into something that I cannot foresee?

Is it pandemic burnout or self-doubt?

We put so much pressure on ourselves when we get locked into comparison.

I compare my ability, my talents, my breadth of knowledge and my appearance. I then assume the drive, motivation and discipline of that person and compare myself to what I simply imagine another’s to be. Because competition has always turned me off, the slight chance of it pushes me deep into a tarry pit of insecurity and that shit is too sticky to climb out without assistance. I’ve spent too many days wallowing there; doing too much thinking and not enough doing.

Why is it that even when we know the way out of a hard place, we still look for alternative routes knowing that those paths will likely put us back where we started?

Standards — the arbitrary goalposts and benchmarks we set for ourselves can sometimes motivate us but other times, they can easily frighten and freeze us or completely cripple us.

I want so badly to be the motivated one but the reality is that it’s a tough mind frame for me to maintain so I have to take a different approach.

If I can’t see myself as an equal peer to those I hold in such high regard, I have to stop viewing us side by side. In doing so, I will always see the other floating 20 yards above me with no way to ever reach their heights while I’m dragging below with two cement blocks as shoes.

Instead, I have to see the other swimming in an entirely different ocean- one that has a completely different ecology and hierarchy. Knowing that person has evolved according to their surroundings. They’ve adapted to survive their own circumstances and suitably, I have and will need to continue to do so in my own way in my own ocean.

We are not each other’s competition; we are individuals who reflect our unique surroundings, upbringings, conditioning, teachings, thoughts and feelings. Because of that, we all have unique gifts to offer. One person’s talents and abilities do not negate our own.

Let me repeat: one person’s talents and abilities do not negate our own.

We have to stop looking at what we lack and focus more intuitively on the strengths that we have and cultivate them.

We have to stop waiting for permission to share our strengths, our talents our hardships and our triumphs.

We must stop apologizing for our gifts.

We must tell perfectionism to fuck off.

We must stop critiquing ourselves and our work to death.

We must stop waiting for permission to try, to fail, to dust ourselves off and try again.

If not for us, for those who are rooting for you. Those who need you to keep trying.

Lokella at Pyramid Scheme, Feb 2020. Photo by Joe Hirschmugl, Nenonen Photo

Musician & writer in LOKELLA. Pen-yielding page scratcher.