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Becoming a musician — again

Dear Cary,

Almost one year ago, I returned to my career as a musician after spending a number of years outside of music pursuing a "normal" job. Despite the success I was lucky to enjoy during an economically tumultuous time, working outside of music made me feel like a fraud, like my life was a charade -- surrounded by people with whom I could not identify, doing work that supported projects that, I believe, ultimately do more harm than good to society overall, and letting my talent and passion for music languish.

Through career workshops and classes, books, certain friendships and self-reflection, I finally found the courage to return to music. The crux of my focus now is addressing and putting to rest the reason I left music originally. I believe that the essence of my motivation was to raise a white flag and surrender to the "practical" thinking and fears that had been instilled in me by my parents, particularly my mom (my dad passed away when I was a teenager). These fears show up when I am practicing, rehearsing, performing and auditioning as a little voice of doubt that tells me that I will never conquer my nervousness and insecurities sufficiently to be able to present myself as I am capable of playing for each rehearsal, performance and audition so that I might have a chance at making a viable living as a working musician. Even though I have made tremendous progress in dealing with nerves since returning to music, I am terrified that my anxieties will always cripple me -- causing me to freak out and botch things the moment the music becomes tricky or exposed or requires sensitive handling. I am scared every day. More than that, recently I am finding myself waking up with a vague sense of depression each day that seems to add an additional weight on my shoulders as I am forced to soldier forward through the murkiness. Sometimes, despite all the positive responses I receive, when I come home I just want to cry and cry and cry.

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