It’s amazing how bogged down we can get with our own anxiety and self doubt. I woke up this morning and mentally ran through all the possible failure scenarios for my show tomorrow night at the Hotel Utah. Just a month ago I was impressed by my ability to do what I’m doing and eager to share it with an audience. This morning I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking when I decided to do this show. Do you really think you can pull this off, asks that nagging little voice in my head. And the truth is, I don’t know. It will be what it will be. But I do know that running failure scenarios serves no purpose, or does it?
My oldest son is starting junior high next fall. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in kindergarten, his early school years were rocky to say the least, but at the transitional IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting I attended this week, the teachers and administrators declared him a success story. Later that same day he and I attended an orientation meeting at the junior high for all incoming students. As we walked out of the meeting I knew that look on his face. He was worried.
“What’s wrong,” I asked.
“I think I’m going to get bad grades and detention. It sounds like it’s going to be hard,” he said.
I know my son pretty well, and while my impulse was to give him a big ol’ “Oh, you’ll do fine!” I knew that a blanket of soft, fluffy platitudes wouldn’t even begin to cover his anxieties. Instead I decided to break it down. What if he did get a bad grade, what could he do? He could work harder on his homework; he could ask for help from his teacher or his parents. He could make sure he understood what was expected of him, even if he had to ask a lot of questions. Why did he think he would get detention? Which school rules seemed hard to understand or follow? And so it went all the way home. At the end of the talk I told him about the IEP meeting and how his teachers spoke highly of him; he’s been getting good grades, seems to excel at math and has even developed a few friendships. He seemed pleased to know his teachers liked him and he even gave himself a pat on the back for being a good math student. Did this dispel his anxiety? Not completely, but it seemed to assuage his fears in that moment.
Getting through a short set at Hotel Utah is about a zillion times easier than navigating junior high (and I’ve already done that, so there’s a whole different perspective on the situation). Still, I’m nervous and so I’m going to follow my own lead and run some of those failure scenarios and figure out what I might do should any of them come to pass.
As far as I can tell, rock and roll is all about swagger, getting your super ego blotto and taping directly into your inner wild child, the id. There’s not a lot of swagger to my plan. But then, my inner wild child is 42. Perhaps creative problem solving is the new Jack Daniels of the middle aged synth pop set.
I’ll let you know.