As I rocked up to my first photo shoot in YEARS I lolled at the irony of me wearing my feel no fear t-shirt again. I’ve worn it on stage a few times (and I think even in a photo shoot before) and each time have noted the hilarity of it’s message vs how I’m normally feeling. Just to set the scene for a moment here - normally before a photo shoot I am crumpled up in a teary, stressy ball of anxiety for as long as I’ve known it was happening but increasingly so as it approaches closer and closer and I realise I’m out of time to lose a couple of stone in preparation and “look my best self.”
The truth is is that I feel a lot of fear - all the time - we all do. And we all react to fear in different ways.
I used to see fear as a challenge. As an opportunity to rebel and to be adventurous and free. I threw myself into all sorts of situations and ventures - some wiser than others. Climbed mountains, jumped out of planes, travelled solo as a teenager experiencing many different countries and cultures. In love with life - living each day to the full and using fear as my propellor.
Now the picture looks very different. Fear has become more of a silencing presence, something that freezes me in time and makes me feel levels of anxiety that I didn’t know possible. Sometimes I feel stuck in time watching opportunities, and potential moments and experiences pass me by - and why - because whether i really understand it or not I’m totally fucking terrified.
In work and personal life fear has become an opportunity to belittle myself in front of others just so that they don’t do it first. An opportunity to make jokes about myself being fat or looking like a thumb or being the crazy one or being unqualified and casually going on about making it up as I go along…
Truth is I have worked bloody hard for every opportunity and job I have and have had - fought to get my voice out into the world and educated myself every step of the way - I’m still trying to do this. I know I’m strong and resilient and work my tits off so why do I not project that person into the world. Why do I put myself down at every turn?
I’m writing this after being belittled in front of a room full of people in a professional scenario and my go to was to blame myself. "Why does he think he can speak to me like that? Is it because I seem weak, is it because I make fun of myself all the time and now he doesn’t take me seriously? Is it because I’m a girl? Is it because I’m not cool enough or fun enough or pretty enough? Is it because i’m actually shit at my job?” Whatever the reason it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I don’t want to be afraid any more and I don’t want to keep putting myself down all the time any more and inviting others to do the same. I don’t want to let experiences and opportunities pass me by. I don’t want to take shit from other people. I’ve just hit my limit. I’m done.
I spent years trying to please everyone else and it didn’t work. I’ll tell you that for FREE. When I got bullied in school (as of course many of us did - even the bullies got bullied by other bullies) I just let it happen and tried to keep impressing the bullies in the hope that eventually they’d like me. In some cases I even went into adulthood trying to impress these people. No longer. After spending all my energy trying to make uninterested people like me I would then go home and crumple into a ball and that was when I learnt to hate myself, when I developed what would become a 20 year long eating disorder. We learn how to feel about ourselves when we are young. These feelings are held for many years or even forever until we actually meaningfully deal with them. I put myself down all the time BECAUSE others used to very openly do it first to my face. It became easier to do it first.
Well fuck that. DONE.
I spent years not releasing music because the last time didn’t work out. I was so overwhelmed with running a band and writing songs and trying to make it work and then I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. Like I had nothing left to give. I was physically, emotionally, mentally, financially drained. So I stopped the band and lost some friends in the process. The intense fear of that happening again stopped me from wanting to try. There is also that little thing about not being good enough - as a wrier, singer, performer. Oh and that little body image thing. Being a woman in music when you barely feel like a woman and you can’t see many other women that look like you fronting bands and having successful careers UNLESS all people talk about is their weight... and when EVERYONE is younger than you…
I’m not writing this post to have a massive rant (well a little bit) or because I’m exhausted from work and in the corner having a verbal nervous breakdown (also a little bit) but just to say to you all INCLUDING MYSELF, let’s not hold ourselves back any more. The world is weird and scary and people are mean and irrational and project their own feelings of insecurity on to others. But the main person suffering from our fear is ourselves. Who cares if anyone else things we’re too fat or too old or too stupid. Go prove them wrong. Be brilliant and if you’re scared you’re not brilliant enough then tell yourself you’re brilliant anyway or go and get better at whatever it is you want to be brilliant at. Step by step. One foot in front of the other.
Screw the haters because they will always ALWAYS be there.
Write a pledge to yourself. You know the way you run around after everyone else all the time? Give yourself a little time and write down what you want to say to yourself. Commit to the things you want to do. It’s not always going to go right but that’s ok, you’ll feel so much better for trying. If you fail praise yourself for putting yourself out there and giving it a go. You will one hundred percent be happier than if you don’t try at all. Read your pledge first thing in the morning and last thing at night. If you forget to do this or are bad in the morning and crap at going to bed then that’s fine just don’t be mean to yourself about it. If you can’t see the people that you’re looking for as inspiration and validation then go and be those people. It might change someone else's view on what they can achieve.
After seven years of not releasing music I’m finally doing it again. Next month. Am I scared? TERRIFIED. Of rejection, of performing live, of putting myself out there again, of people laughing at me. Of asking people to be in my band or work with me. Am I going to do it. Yes - because fuck it.
To all my friends and people out there who feel the same or worse about things - talk to each other. What helped me massively was knowing that others felt the same/similar to me. None of these feelings are unique - we all experience them. It’s the end of mental health awareness week - but lets go into the next few weeks, months and years promising to be nicer to ourselves and each other - because we all deserve it.
Run into the fear. Big love xxxxx
Here is a song I wrote for the brilliant play 'The Man Who Fell to Pieces' by PJ O'Reilly. It was literally about falling to pieces. This song is called 'Tear us Apart,' which is all about sticking together.