And then I breathed a sigh of relief that’s lasting for days – maybe forever? 🙂
This week, I realized that I’ve been living in a cage of mediocrity of my own making. I’ve decided to change that.
Objectively, my violin playing isn’t exactly “mediocre” (I’m a professional and I’m pretty darn good)…but subjectively, I know I haven’t been doing myself justice. I haven’t been doing what it takes to live up to my personal potential on a regular basis.
That’s what I call settling for mediocre.
This week, I’ve decided: I’m done putting myself in a cage, I’m done with staying inside with the door open because stepping out is terrifying, and I’m done settling for mediocrity.
I’m not talking about being happy with “good enough” – there’s nothing wrong with that! But…in my case it’s about settling for “good enough” out of a fear of reaching for more, and making myself wrong for reaching… to the point of not even allowing myself to want it.
I’ve been realizing all of this gradually over time, but when the full force of it hit me this week, I initially felt anger. Anger towards those in my life who unwittingly (or not so much) encouraged me to settle for less than what was possible for me.
Then, anger towards myself.
But anger is just another way of distracting myself from taking full responsibility. Ultimately, I’m the only one responsible for my own choices, and settling for mediocre was nobody’s fault but mine.
This week, during a rehearsal, something just felt so wrong. It felt like I was devaluing, disrespecting, and misrepresenting myself by how I was approaching my life as a musician.
When I finally realized the gravity of the situation, I came to a firm decision to change my approach….NOW.
Because life is short.
And it’s such a gift.
There is so much more that I could be doing with my time, intelligence, and talent. So much more goodness I could be bringing to the world.
Standing silently on stage during that rehearsal, it hit me that I’ve been settling for mediocrity for more than half of my life – ever since I left my solo career path at age 19.
Actually, I was settling for less even before that… but when I was a kid, I didn’t have the tools I have now, and there wasn’t anybody around me who could teach me how to fully realize my potential until I found the Alexander Technique at age 33.
When I was young, I was a very successful violinist, but I always knew my violin playing was missing something.
Intuitively, I knew that no matter how hard I tried, unless I found the missing link that would integrate everything and release me from excess tension and effort, I wasn’t going to be able to achieve the greatness I felt I was capable of.
I wasn’t finding the solution in music, so I shifted my attention to other ways of living my life, and sought greatness elsewhere. I never stopped playing the violin, but I abandoned the Muse that chose me when I was two years old…. I now realize that, in some ways, I abandoned myself.
I stopped caring and trying to become the best violinist I could be, and I got used to settling for mediocre. After all, to be a “good person”, I was supposed to “be content with what I have.” So, I worked at that, and I was content. Almost.
We’re told to be happy with what we have…and we believe that’s a good thing…but what if what we have is incredibly huge and blindingly wonderful? Can we handle that? Can those around us handle it?
The problem was, I was very much aware there was a natural greatness inside of me that was not being realized (as I firmly believe is the case with everyone, in one form or another!), and I was NOT content with THAT.
I realize now that I was denying myself, my natural gifts, and my potential out of FEAR.
“Our Deepest Fear”
by Marianne Williamson, from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
I wasn’t so much afraid of failure as I was afraid of achieving success at the possible cost of my happiness.
I wondered… is it possible to be great, famous, successful, rich… AND be a good person AND be happy AND be loved… all at the same time?
Those are things I wondered about, and I seriously doubted.
So, when I was faced with making a decision… I took what SEEMED to be the safer path, and gave up on my dreams.
I started playing small with the aim (excuse?) of simply being “good” without my “goodness” being tied to music. I worked hard to improve my character, keep myself humble, and prevent my ego from taking over. I wanted to be good, but I was afraid of being great.
Unfortunately, sometimes the more you try, the worse things get.
“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”, it screamed, and I let myself be tricked into a false humility. Humility is false when it minimizes the Truth.
Fear and lack of vision have limited me in so many ways.
Fear has prevented me from using my imagination, stopped me from dreaming, wishing, or desiring, and it has stunted my artistic and personal growth. Fear of pride, fear of loss of love and loneliness if I dared to express mySelf fully, showing the world what is possible.
Those fears kept me in the shadows for many years and even caused me to do reprehensible things, just to keep my soul from dying…and others have been hurt along the way. I have known guilt, shame, misery, powerlessness, and deep darkness…
Keeping myself small and mediocre, denying greatness, has been the worst affront to my character – the most unloving, lonely action I’ve ever indulged in – and all along, I thought I was doing the “right” thing. How ironic. Instead, my choice hurt my soul by keeping it caged and quiet…like fencing a prize race horse in a city backyard all day.
A terrific, full life of Grace is what I want to express through my music, and I’m healing. Now, I feel ready to risk taking a few fresh steps towards the greatness I want and have. Why not?
Human beings are made to reflect the greatness planted naturally in our hearts. That goodness is made to shine – not be covered by a barrel or put in a cage.
The human Spirit is FREE and made of infinite potential. It should be allowed to roam wild, infusing every waking activity with Grace.
My indignation today is good. It’s a very strong motivator to ACTION.
I will use its flame to burn mediocrity and re-ignite the creative Light in my heart.
I’m done with settling for mediocre.
I’m getting to work, ready to take the risks.
I want to find out what’s possible.
I’ll let you know when I find out.
I’m ready to step out of this open cage and be my terrific Self, one step at a time.
That’s All, and it’s Everything.
How about you?