I’m not sure if everyone feels like this, I suspect not, but the frustrating thing about being me is that even after having successfully done something multiple times, I still don’t feel confident that I could do it again.
For example, a couple of years ago, I did a project for the Brisbane Writer’s Festival where I scored something like 50 music cues for a set of real-world choose your own adventure journeys. I was just listening back to those cues earlier today, and they’re not Hans Zimmer*, but they worked. It was successful.
[*They were made by improvising on a midi-keyboard using the built in instruments in Logic Pro on my 2011 Macbook Pro. By contrast, Hans has a multi-million dollar studio and a whole team of people working for him. So it’s not a fair comparison.]
Listening back to old works – or the successful ones – I’m always rather surprised that I actually did that thing, and am always vaguely anxious because I don’t feel confident that I could do it again, even though that logically makes no sense at all. For example, with the StreetReads stuff, that was really my first time using Logic, and yet I worked it out, and cranked out plenty of solid music cues. So having that experience should mean I’d be able to do the same thing at least as well a second time around, if not even better, right?
Unfortunately that’s not the way my unconscious thinking interprets the event. My lovely, miraculous brain, sees it more like a fight for survival that I successful overcame, probably more by luck than skill, and that it is a situation to be avoided in the future if at all possible. Which in a strange way makes sense, because it was scary and a bit of a leap in the deep end for me at the time. Unfortunately, I think I felt more confident about doing the task before than I do now that it’s over!
I wonder if other people have this reaction? Ultimately the response is pretty meaningless and just the way certain parts of my thinking interpret my experience, and it doesn’t concern me overly, I’ll stilt show up and do my best each time, but I do wonder if it’s like this for others?
It seems like for some people, with each success they feel a sense of confidence. “I did it once, so I can do it again!” And that makes sense, and so with each new success, comes a new level of confidence and assurance in one’s own abilities. But talking about my raw experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
There’s an interesting analogy in the book “Bounce” by Matthew Syed. Basically, he has observed that most people see themselves as either an Christmas bauble or an orange.
If you’re a Christmas bauble, your life looks beautiful everything appears great, but you know that all it’d take is one fall and everything would shatter into a million tiny pieces. (This is what my composing success feels like.)
If you’re an orange, you’re living with the idea that you can ‘take whatever beating life throws at you’ and ‘if the going gets tough, get tougher’ etc. Because what happens when you drop an orange? Not much, it looks pretty much the same. You can drop an orange a dozen times and it’ll still look like an orange. But on the inside it’s bruised, battered and a mess.
Sayed goes on to say that in reality, people should see themselves as a super ball, you know those bouncy balls that you can throw at the ground and they’ll bounce back, and the harder your throw them, the higher they’ll bounce?
Which one are you?