Fear Comes in Many Disguises

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Although I love the fact that I have been able to create a career as an independent artist and entrepreneur, it is not a perfect career by any means.  That imperfection lies in the fact that art, and people’s perception of it, can change at any time.  Although there is definitely structure and institution within the music industry, music itself is not a fixed commodity; it changes as our culture changes. New trends pop up, in many instances overnight, and change the way we perceive everything that existed before their arrival.  The positive side is that new stars and styles are created, but the negative side is that the existing artists and styles are often displaced.

Yet, knowing this, I still decided to pursue a career in music.  Not because I have an unshakable resolve, I don’t, but because I understand that viewing things like that is as much a function of fear as it is reality.  It is certainly true that music, and people’s taste in music, changes over time; even the music industry itself looks a lot different than it did just ten short years ago.  But what isn’t said, is that there are many examples of artists who have stayed relevant for long periods of time.  Everything they’ve done has disproven the popular sentiment that you’re lucky if you get five good years out of a career in music. There are tons of artists, large and small, whose art and image allowed them to carve out long-term careers in the constantly-changing landscape.

So why even mention the possible negative outcome in the first place?  Well, the answer is simple.

Fear.

When I first considered making the entrepreneurial leap, I had a lot of “reasons” to not do it: I had a great paying job; I had already spent five years getting the degree; good benefits; and I was getting a steady paycheck. There were no guarantees I could make money in music, the music industry was dying, trends were changing fast, and I could end up in debt.

Fear is a natural human response unknown outcomes. As we take these situations into consideration, our minds make sure we have assessed the possible outcomes.  This is human nature and a mostly positive survival instinct.  However, there is a point where fear in our current context is given too much power.  That happens when we begin to fear the possible negative outcomes more than the potential gains.  Even worse, we begin to take on a dialog that hides these fears as something other than what they really are.

Our fears become reasons.

Our fears become explanations.

Our fears become crutches.

Our fears can even become the morals and codes we stand by.

Fear comes in many disguises.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years, is that refusing to admit you are afraid of the unknown is much worse than actually being afraid of the unknown. This is because once you begin to deny a specific fear, that fear will disguise itself as something other than what it is.

I will give you an example of this.

I wrote a book in early 2013 called What a Night, that I plan on releasing in 2014. The book is about the worst shows of my touring career. Writing the book took a lot of commitment but it wasn’t technically difficult. I set aside a month and wrote the entire thing.  However, when it came time to edit and finish the book, I started to drag my feet. Several months went by and I still couldn’t motivate myself to start editing the book. At that point, I knew that there had to be something deeper going on.  I had edited my previous two books without any problems and never had this much hesitation about starting the process.  I began to dig deeper into the situation and ask myself questions.

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Is this book more difficult to edit than your other books? No.

Is this book longer than your other books? No.

Do you have less time to edit this book than your other books? No.

Are you concerned about what people will think about you after reading this book? Yes.

I eventually admitted that I had a great deal of fear about what people’s perception would be of me after reading the book. Many of the stories in the book happened five to ten years ago, and while they are pretty entertaining, some of them are also embarrassing. Other stories in the book deal with me getting jerked by promoters and still have an emotional weight to them.  I had to admit that while writing the book helped me get a lot of closure, it also made me come to terms with many of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.  Sometimes you don’t fully realize these mistakes until you put them on paper.  So finishing the book opened me up to the fear that I would now be getting judged on those mistakes.  And because I never confronted that fear, it began to disguise itself.

It disguised itself as me telling myself that I just didn’t have the time to edit the book.

It disguised itself as me telling myself that I’m not a good writer.

It disguised itself as me telling myself that nobody would like the book.

The truth was that I had a fear of the person I was then being used to judged who I am right now.  It took me several months before I could ask myself the tough questions and get back to editing the book with the same sense of purpose and conviction I had when I wrote it.

My example is about writing a book, but the lesson is clear: fear comes in many disguises.  In order to evolve and break down the barriers that are holding us back from achieving what we want to achieve in life, we must confront these fears.  We must admit that fear is at the root of our hesitation and lack of progress. We must also admit that most of what we tell ourself to avoid confronting these fears is not true.  Our real fears are often masked beneath layers of coded language and distracting behavior. While these layers do provide a cover which protects us from unknown outcomes, they also close us off from the positive outcomes that taking chances and seizing opportunity can bring.

If you are stuck, don’t be afraid to ask yourself the tough questions. Acknowledge, unmask, and confront your fears and new possibilities will open up.

Word is Blog.


BLUEPRINT
Rapper/Producer/Author
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Get my latest book What a Night: A Book About the Worst Shows of My Career
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  • Do you think about the breakthroughs you have made through understanding fear’s place in your life? If you’re anything like me, you get a bit more daring because of it. When you can realized that you are not doing something because you’re afraid, it becomes amusing. At least it is to me. What are we afraid of? Most times, we will be totally fine, so we gotta try, right?

  • N. StarStuff

    You, sir, are a beautiful soul. Thank you for posting this! It was right on time..

  • Grammis

    Hey Print, change is inevitable and I believe that we want to stay in a certain moment because we think that moment is safe. I believe that we are limiting ourselves when we do this because there’s a whole new moment we won’t even take a step in and therefore we feel fear. We seek permanence when permanence doesn’t exist. Take your music for example, you are not the same artist you were when you started in the game but have developed into a new one (and will continue to develop). Trends will change and so will Blueprint. With your books and with your music you are sharing your experience and your opinions, to teach. I’m glad that you won’t let fear stop that.

  • EightySix

    Big fan man, good read. This reminds me of Steven pressfields book “War of Art”. If you haven’t already read it I suggest you check it out. It’s about fear and the resistence to get shit done!

  • printmatic

    I heard somebody mention that “War of Art” book to me a little while ago and wrote it on my list of books to read. Thanks for the reminder.

  • printmatic

    Thanks for reading!

  • printmatic

    I agree completely. Thanks for your comment!

  • printmatic

    You’re completely right about it becoming amusing once you see it. There have been many times, especially in the past few months, where i have been stuck because of a fear i didn’t acknowledge–but once I actually recognize it for what it is it does bring a smile to my face. There’s something really liberating about just admitting that it’s only fear and that it’s nothing to be afraid of. Unmasking it defintiely makes us bolder. Fear is kind of like the ghosts in the Scooby Doo cartoon; when they think they’re really ghosts they get scared, but once they find out its just a regular person hiding behind a mask they get confident.

  • amar ashworth

    Great post… It reminds me of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

  • J poetic

    I see your introspection. Something I respect as an artist. It’s hard to not let the past prevent you from staying who you are.

  • Chris Rogers

    You go print well spoken everyone has fear and intill we a individual people learn to overcome are fears of failure death being socially acceptable etc no of will ever be able to unlock are true talents and purposes in live love your music brother keep making and I still got got my autographed 1988 vinyl for a show in Pomona ca in 07 stay homie

  • printmatic

    thanks for the comment!

  • printmatic

    Thanks Chris!

  • printmatic

    Indeed. Thanks for reading!

  • Chris Rogers

    No doubt spelling sucks wrote from a phone good looking on the blueprint who download appreciate it hopefully your in cali or vegas again so I catch another show you killed the the last one I saw god bless and three years sober congrets got 170 days sober today lol

  • Micah

    Yup, we are just like The Scooby Gang. If there is some higher power looking down, it’s watching just like we used to and saying “Really? That ghost/fear scenario is the same shit you went through last time. Come on now.” Episode after episode, but shit we learn, even if slowly, even if only to laugh.

  • printmatic

    no doubt bro. Congrats on the sobriety. that is dope! Keep it up man. I’ll be back in Cali and Vegas both later this spring. Hope yo can make it out to a show.

  • This was right on time for me. I was in the process of talking myself out of performing my music on stage for the 1st time tonight by using fear based excuses like “I don’t have all my words memorized.” or “I don’t think my breath control is up to par yet.”…even though I’ve ran through this set 10 -15 times with few problems. Long story short…this entry spoke to me and I’m all in tonight. Thank you, sir.

  • blackpoppies

    “stories in the book deal with me getting jerked by promoters and still have an emotional weight to them”

    this stands out to me, big time. i think this that crucial point at which anger and fear can cease being plain old anger and fear, and actually solidfy into resentment and become structurally part of us in in the way you outlined:

    Our fears become reasons.

    Our fears become explanations.

    Our fears become crutches.

    Our fears can even become the morals and codes we stand by

    gotta catch that sneaky stuff!! thanks so much for this article.

  • Lee Alan Waddell

    Hell ya print….most people don’t want the truth. Ohio is waiting on the new album come on man drop it on em….

  • printmatic

    Coming with it this spring. Announcement soon, my man!

  • printmatic

    Thanks for reading. Good luck with your performance

  • thanks blueprint. this is hugely relevant to the situation i’m in at the moment, rendering some of my doubts invalid. i also spent 5 years earning a highly regarded degree that came with a good job, money and financial security, but decided to pursue entrepreneurial dreams, ones that i had been quietly passionate for much of my life.

    this has been difficult due to lack of support by many of those close to me, fearing the unknown “for my sake”. i had to confront and accept their perspective as simply them wishing a ‘secure situation’ for me, so they can rest at ease knowing they won’t have to see me suffer financial hardship; their view is really for their own mental security rather than for my benefit. so, i proceed to operate with only support of close friends until i achieve a position within a record label or have a mildly successful album launch, which will quench the negative fires and allow me to comfortably tread through my chosen life, and reach full potential.

    all the best man, love your work.

    PEACE,
    che$co