Sometimes, when I hear other musicians who sound really amazing, I get discouraged, especially when I hear them performing in a way that I have not developed. I start to wonder if I really don’t “have what it takes” or if I think that I’m better than I am. I start to really doubt my own talents.
A recent instance discouraged me so much I cried – hard – so bad that my eye makeup ran all over the place and I had to redo it. :/
How do we deal with this?
I’ve tried not to compare myself to others too much, but in general, whenever I feel jealous or envious, the person who invoked these feelings has had a very different life from me. Usually, it’s someone who has studied music in a college, or at least twice as long as I have, while I spent that time on other things, like ENGINEERING.
I also try to remember that it doesn’t matter what other people can do. What matters is what I can do and whether I’m living up to my full potential.
After crying, and even during, I actually had to remind myself of my strengths and gifts. Also, why should I care so much if someone if better than me at whatever? Rather, I should strive to better myself and be the best I can be with the gifts I have been given. Besides, unless you are the best in the entire world at whatever it is that you do, there’s ALWAYS going to be someone out there who is better than you. But what difference does it make?
Besides, what the hell else am I gonna do?? I sure as HELL ain’t going back to engineering…
This leads me to one of my absolute FAVORITE quotes, that I also shared in a previous post. It has been (disputably) attributed to Henry Van Dyke:
“Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
So who cares if you are the best writer? WRITE.
Who cares if you are the best singer? SING.
What difference does it make if you are the best piano/guitar/sax/etc player? PLAY.
Who cares if you are the best whatever?? BE WHATEVER YOU ARE MEANT TO BE.
You are an amazing woman, not because of your voice and musical ability, not even because of your skill in mathematics and engineering. You are amazing because you have learned how to get undressed, look at yourself when most vulnerable and admire the work of art that God created in you. You are an extraordinarily talented musician and champion of faith. You have the gift of openness and compassion that enables you to heal from the inside out while sharing your open arms with anyone who needs a hug. You have taught your friends what it means to be human and to embrace our imperfection as an open door to accept the love of Our Father and Blessed Mother. Those who perceive themselves as just beyond the grasp of humility often find themselves building a wall between themselves and their Creator.
We all find ourselves wishing or wanting in ways that overshadow our humble hearts with selfishness. What God asks of us is not to compare ourselves with another, but to accept who we are and the gifts He has given us, and share them with others. Each of us are unique, a one-of-a-kind tribute to all things human, a quality we share with Our Redeemer Lord. Be one with the love of God, and do not cry out of envy or jealousy. Shed your tears for those who do not know the love of God, for they will never know what it is like to be truly human and one with their Creator.
Amo, ergo sum. May the Lord give you peace.
Tony, This is very beautifully said.
I agree as I’ve learned that we all have gifts to share with one another. But sometimes it’s hard to keep sight of that.
Thank you for sharing.
The goal is not the be the best but the be the best one can be and most important, having the courage to be happy! The story goes that In grade school, a teacher asked John Lennon what he wanted to be in he grew up, John said “I want to be happy.” The teach said “John, I don’t think you understand the question.” John replied to the teacher “I don’t think you understand life.”
What a blessing it is to be a musician and be able to make a living teaching, performing, writing, and playing. What courage it took to leave engineering for music. Being the best does not ensure happiness, sooooo much has to be sacrificed to “be the best.” Just enjoy each moment, savor each note, smile, and be happy.
Dan, of course a man who most frequently is seen smiling will give such a warm response. Great quote from Lennon! I’ve heard that before but it has been a while. It’s true: one of the best ways to combat jealousy is to bring to mind the things for which we are most thankful. Actually, I try to do that every day: write down 5 things for which I am grateful. It really helps put things into perspective.
Thank you for your comments.
This blog post really resonates with me. I struggle in the same way with the temptation to compare myself negatively to other musicians that I admire. I know exactly how that feeling can make you feel like curling up in a dark corner and wish to never step out into the light again. I can’t help but think this is the work of a dark presence whispering in my ear, “you’ll never be good enough.”
Like you, I fight back against these thoughts by reminding myself of all the things that make me unique and successful. It also helps to be reminded that there are those out there who actually like how I sing and play. Shouldn’t that be the only litmus test that matters? It shouldn’t be a question of how many people like what I do. I should be happy that what I do pleases some, and be thankful for that.
I’ve been a fan of yours since our duet at Cafe Fiat many years ago, and I’ll admit to a bit of jealosy as I sit in my engineering job while you enjoy a musical career. We each have our gifts, and the best we can do is to nurture them and share them with our neighbor. You do that very well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.
Even though I work in ENGINEERING, I can relate to your frustration and envy. …oh why didn’t I focus more on cellular technology, or that technology.
Or my painting, why didn’t I study fine art as a youth.
Or my golfing, why didn’t I start sooner.
All I can truly say, is to find your strengths and focus on them. If you continually try to adapt your style to what other artists are doing you will only succeed in thinning your strengths until you are left with many mediocre capabilities.
Until you make peace with who you are, you’ll never be content with what you have. -Doris Mortman