Are you ready for another installment of “The Mad Pianist Confessions?” Okay, so maybe that’s not a real thing but it is what we are doing today. This may surprise some but I am probably the most insecure person that I know. In fact, I have been fairly insecure 95% of my life. I have been very blessed to have people in my life that have helped to buoy me up and offer me praise but that’s never really enough, is it? Confidence is something that has to come from within and cannot be imposed upon oneself.
Erich Fromm has been quoted as saying, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.” So, how is it that we get to the level of toleration? That is the question of the day, isn’t it?
I look back on my life and see my insecurities so firmly rooted in my experiences. In high school, I had a great piano teacher but I never felt quite “good enough.” I remember leaving my lessons more than once in tears. She had another student that seemed to be pitted against me often. I have no idea whether that was something done intentionally or just by chance. We were paired for duo piano and played comparable pieces. I came to really detest the sound of her name. “Well, this is what [name] is doing.” I was ahead of her by a year in school, so I moved on and became a piano major at university. She came to audition the next spring and I prayed she would go somewhere else. “Please, anywhere but here.” She did end up attending another university. I have come to a peace about that time in my life and those experiences but I hope that I never cause a student of mine to feel as I did. I was good but it was never quite enough to be acceptable.
In college, I remember my insecurity growing so large that I would often not seek out opportunities because of the chance of failure. I remember meeting with my piano teacher during my junior year to talk about my future. I was going to be graduating the next spring and really wanted to go to grad school but was so insecure. I really just wanted her to tell me that I was good enough. Well, it turns out that she had told me in different ways from my very first semester that I was talented and definitely good enough. She was a huge supporter of mine from the beginning and it has taken me years to see this clearly. During that meeting, she did, indeed, tell me that I was good enough and would be a good fit for graduate music school. Another day, another post, and I will tell more about this time in my life, the conversations I had with this professor, and the life lessons I learned while at the keyboard.
Not only am I insecure with my relationship to my talent but with my relationships with my family, friends, work, and God. It is always the “am I good enough?”, “Will I be liked better if…” and so on. This is my mountain to climb, I suppose.
I am at work today and did a music group with about seven people. One of them said to me: “You are so talented, what are you doing here?” I really had no reply. I know that I have talent and I know that I should feel confidence in what I can do and accomplish. There are days that I am well aware of this and others that I just struggle. I have talent, artistry, and desire but now I need to seek that which I lack: the ability to see myself with those qualities.
So, for those of you struggling, I say push on. You are more than good enough. You have all you need within you to succeed. If I can do it, so can you.
Peace and love,
The Mad Pianist