My husband won’t sing in front of me. He’s taking voice lessons with a great teacher (Tyler Kofoed, if you’re interested), and he says he’s getting better, but he won’t sing for me. Part of it is intimidation, because I’ve been taking lessons and just singing a lot longer, but part of it is massive insecurity and not wanting to reveal that he’s not great at something. I didn’t realize it was actually a thing until he nearly had a panic attack after he almost got up the nerve to let me warm him up the other day.
He calls me brave. It’s not a word I generally claim, because I think I would back down from a physical altercation, and I’m not sure I would rush into a burning building to save cats. But in some ways, I am brave. I ignore the part of my ego that cares what other people think, and when I want to do something, I just don’t give a damn about other people.
Take climbing. It had been over ten years since I last went climbing (indoors, but still). Ten years and, oh, 50-60 pounds. My harness didn’t really fit anymore. Did you know that shoes feel tighter when you’ve gained that much weight? But I decided to go climbing at a gym here with a friend. We started with bouldering (stupid idea, but I didn’t have a harness that fit), and I fell off the wall. Many times. At one point, I fell on my way walking to the wall. Yeah. I shut down the part of me that said I was too big and clumsy and weak and lazy and all manner of bad things, and I made some progress. And then a little more the next time. And when I finally got a harness that fit, I got a little ways up a wall a few times. And then more. And now, I’m still not very good, and not very strong, but I’m getting better each time, and no one has even tried to say that I’m too big to climb, or anything negative at all.
I’m really insecure about most everything. I know I’m smart, but I’m not doing big, important things with it. I know I’m a good musician, but I’m not in top-notch ensembles. I know I’m kind and funny, but I’m sometimes unsatisfied with my friendships. I could create a very long list of the things that I am insecure about, but you get the idea. My pride and my bravery and very closely related to my insecurity. It comes from deciding that my life would be better for having tried something, or for letting something go, than to stick with the old ways of doing things. And once I decide that, the external naysayers get the same treatment as the internal naysayers: I ignore them, or, at least, try to ignore them.