To Become Who You Want to Be, You Have to Face the Gap
First, you have to dare to be bad at something
I was getting a coffee with a talented, accomplished friend when he dropped a conversational bomb. He looked out the window and said, “The image I’ve carried around since I was very young is this other version of me, who’s not necessarily perfect, but who’s my ideal… the more successful, more productive, more socially well-adjusted, more, you know, everything. More confident version of me. It is me, but I’m behind several screens or something, and I can’t seem to get through.”
Many of us have an alternate-reality self we wish we could be. The most striking thing about my friend’s revelation was that even when he was as young as 18, he had already given up hope of ever becoming this wished-for version of himself — a working musician, it turned out. Way back then he was already telling himself: “Too bad it’s already too late for me to be that person. Why bother trying?”
My friend has a successful career. He’s also a gifted amateur guitarist, but, assuming he could never become a rockstar, he never even attempted to take his music seriously. As a young man, he was so afraid of failing at music that he didn’t tell people he played, let alone form a band or perform at an open mic.
He was too nervous. What my friend didn’t get is that feeling nervous didn’t mean he had no chance at becoming a great musician. It just meant that it mattered to him.
Facing the gap
Consider this: The only way to change your life is to change your actions. How important is this alternate-reality version of yourself? Is it important enough to live with some intense discomfort?
I’ve been taking hip-hop dance classes for almost a year. I’m a pretty good social dancer, so I’d long lived with this alternate-reality-me who was a kick-ass, trained dancer. In my late forties, I started taking intro classes. And let’s just say my performance in my dance classes did not at all match up to my mental image of what I should be capable of. It felt, often, humiliating.