My friend laughed in my face. “But seriously…what do you really want to do?” He took a swig of his beer and patiently waited for the response he imagined was coming.
“I am serious! I want to be a musician. That’s what I’m planning to do with my life.”
His frozen smile quickly told me that he thought I was chasing a unicorn that lead to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I might as well have told him I planned on being an astronaut and fly the first manned mission to Mars.
This wouldn’t be the last time someone would imply I was bound for failure.
During college, I had enrolled in a Music Business class to learn how to further my goal and vision of becoming a professional musician. The first day of class, my professor asked how many of us were planning on becoming professional musicians. I kept my hand down at first until he insisted, “Come on….I know we got a few in here…” Slowly a few of us began to raise our hands and he chuckled.
“Just so the rest of you know…” he paused. “The chances of becoming a full-time, touring musician are point zero, zero, zero, one percent. So good luck.” And then he launched into his lecture.
I almost believed him. Honestly, I almost believed that knot in my gut and the little voice in my head that told me “That’s right. You can’t.” And I think more often than not we listen to that voice. We give into fear.
Fear tells us all types of things that have the possibility to be true, but are often distorted. Like a playground bully, it picks on our perceived weakness and amplifies them. Mine began to whisper things like: How do I even begin to write a song? What if I can’t make money on the road? What if all the bands I audition for think my vocals suck?
Sometimes we can overcome and tell the voice to shove it, but when we begin to take the proper steps to move forward in our aspirations, it comes back with a new attack plan. It begins to remind us of the unforeseen in life. For instance, if like me, you want to be a touring musician, fear will come back as soon as you have the gigs lined up and venues to play and then begin to tell you: Hey, you’ve never even left your city. You don’t even know what road life is like or if you’ll like it. What if every venue you play at has only 5 people show? And that fear of the unknown once again begins to cripple us.
The interesting thing that I’ve learned about fear of the unknown is that it’s just like a mirage in the desert. Dying men in the desert often see an oasis full of water and palm trees, but when they finally reach it, discover more sand. It ended up being a figment of their imagination and didn’t really exist. Once I finally got on the road and started touring I discovered all those fears were simply mirages and didn’t actually exist.
But even if we overcome our fears, it always has a back up that speaks stronger to our souls and keeps us stagnant.
I almost gave up on being a musician. And not just once. Before I joined August Burns Red I had five different bands completely disband. Yes, the failure was strong with this one. But what failure taught me has been one of my biggest lessons in life. It may sound insane to you, but failure is actually your best friend because it’s simply a learning opportunity.[clickToTweet tweet=”Failure is only failure when you continue to let it keep knocking you down.” quote=”Failure is only failure when you continue to let it keep knocking you down.”]
Throughout most of my hurts in life and my repeated failures both in my career and spiritually I always have the opportunity to learn from it. We will either come out stronger from our hurts, or we will fail. So often we look at our mistakes and just see failure. I failed and looked at porn. I failed and got wasted again. I failed my band cause I spent more time gaming than practicing. I failed God. Fear will always tell us we’ll fail. And when we fail we often let it reaffirm this instead of pressing forward and using it as a learning opportunity.
I read recently that Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken had his famous 11 herbs and spices chicken recipe rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it. One thousand and nine times! I only had five bands dissolve!
Don’t get me wrong; failure hurts. It always stings and not pleasant when it happens, but far too many of us will remain in endless cycles believing a bully and his best friend and never get to play on the playground of life for fear of failure.
In my own life, the Apostle Paul’s writing in the New Testament of the Bible has really encouraged me. In Philippians 4:4-7 he says this:
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
Most of us want peace in our lives, and for me I find mine in God during the times of failure and despair. I want to give those feelings to God and let Him unveil where I went wrong and what to truly believe about myself. I can give him my anxiety, and in return, He gives me peace. When I’m all wrapped up in fear and I can’t see clearly God says, “I will give you peace which surpasses all understanding”. It sounds simple, and most times it is, but there have been many moments when I’ve been that boy who looked at fear as the dictator of my heart and failure as the ruler of my domain so I refuse to take God at face value. But when I can be humble enough to ask God to take over, give me peace, and teach me really how to see this situation clearly he always shows up.
So today, quiet the voice and if you’ve fallen down, just remember…it’s as simple as getting back up.