Doubt is beyond fear. It’s declaring defeat before there is even any proof of demise. It is giving up before there is a reason to. It’s what settles in after the fearlessness has worn off and the jets of ambition cool down. It’s the voice in your head that says “you aren’t good enough and even though you’re willing to take the risk and face your fears, it won’t be worth it.” Fear can be a great motivator, or so a voice teacher once told me while I crammed for a performance of “I’ll Stand By You” by the Pretenders one week before. Looking back, I was fearful then, not doubtful. I knew I could do it but I was scared of being underprepared so I practiced a little extra. It’s doubt, not fear, that stops you. This was one of my first and last solo performances of that nature.
Doubt is what kept me in the clutches of security, following a cleanly trimmed path of plain old Americana practicality. I went to college, got a degree, and graduated like you’re supposed. And don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy I did. I loved college and I’m pleased with the career path I’m currently on. College was the experience I needed to understand more about myself and the world around me. But doubt made sure there was always something missing: the college experience I wanted in NYC, gigs in bars and coffee shops, music classes I wanted to take, and dreams I stowed away doubting they could ever come true, among many other omissions.
Doubt locks you into your insecurities. It throws them in your face and makes you believe them. It makes you believe them so much that you don’t even trust the process of learning or improving anymore; it just wouldn’t be worth the embarrassment. It’s crushing your dreams before you even have a chance to figure them out.
And I’m sick of it.
So my promise to myself as an artist and a person going forward, is to work past the doubt. Work until it doesn’t feel hard or impossible anymore. Let fear motivate you and figure it out along the way. Trust the process because it is worth it. The fear of never achieving the dreams I’ve kept protected all these years is a greater motivator than doubt should ever be.