One of my earliest childhood memories is from our neighborhood’s sand box. A much older and bigger boy hit me in the nose with a fist. I’m not really sure anybody even noticed, because nobody did nothing. I just remember continuing whatever I was doing, in a little shock and ashamed.
I was a quite shy kid. Usually the ”extra” child at the side of the basketball court, watching my brother shoot hoops with his friends. Present pretty much because I had to be taken with. I’d much rather observe than play myself, because I never hit the target and it didn’t really gain me any social points. I was pretty much an outsider with my ”own” friends as well. There were a lot of rules to follow and I usually was left with the toys and roles that nobody else had wanted. I did a lot to be accepted, but I don’t think I ever really felt similarity with anybody.
As an adult I’ve started to think why I never wanted any hobbies as a kid and why I’ve been so protective towards everything I’ve loved the most. I have come to understand that not only have I become afraid of failure and trying, I’ve also somehow alienated myself from the idea of being successful. So, today I’m letting you in my head as I’m writing about self-confidence and fear.
I was not born a musician. Probably it would’ve been more suitable for me to become a doctor or get some kind of a gigantic degree in economics, but I chose to sing. None of my family members neither write or do arts, but like a good self-centered millennial I chose my career path based on what I love, not what was expected of me or might’ve been useful. Having chosen otherwise, I would have regretted forever.
A while ago I started thinking how large a proportion of my choices and opportunities have been under the influence of external factors. For example, would I have gained a crazy self-confidence if I had been encouraged and praised more as a child. Or where I would be if my parents were musicians too. I’ve always found it a huge advantage for anybody who wants to become a musician if arts were present in their family, and it’s just beautiful to watch these people at work. I on the other hand had to be pushed. Getting out of my comfort zone and deliberately becoming brave was a mission I embarked as a teenager, determined to reach my goals. It was not easy and often the spotlights turned the other way, but working harder made me good at what I did.
Becoming a singer erased many fears from my early years. It’s funny though, because the confidence I had built trough hard work was later shot to shit because of competition and other people’s opinions. As I participated in different projects and programs people started telling me not to be so loud. So visible. So energetic. Not to take so much space. And I? I was a fool to listen. There was someone who kicked some wisdom into me by saying that ”If you are a lot and others are afraid of being outshone by you, they should rise up to your level. Never lessen yourself because of others.”
I bet you’re never told not to be good if you’re really, really good at math. If someone has, please correct me because I want to know. I’ve always assumed it’s been an issue of the arty field. For example I once lost an employer’s acceptance because of how visible I was. ”Nobody but me is allowed to make jokes here” he told me when people were laughing at something I had said. I still remember that. Nobody else got to be good.
Then there are the people that call you arrogant. You’re ”bragging” when you say what you do for a living. That’s why I usually don’t tell unless I’m armed to my thongs. You always have to make an extra effort not to seem like a total dick and yet try to maintain a straight posture and walk away with it as well. Pride and arrogance, like I mentioned before, are not the same thing — but can you trust other people to know it, too? I don’t like the cringing trend we have in Finland. It doesn’t take you anywhere and gives you a completely wrong image about working and how to gain acceptance. I think it’s unfair having to suck up first. I’ve never been good at that, because I much rather talk to the face than the derrière.
People are so much happier when they reach their target. Even if it means shooting low. It brings comfort. Feels homely. But makes you want to tear off heads of those people who actually went for their dream. They say jealousy is a Finnish ’national disease’.. but a few are in a hurry to act otherwise. There’s an old Finnish saying which roughly goes ”Who has the happiness, they should hide it.” Did you know it used to be a real thing to cut the udders of other farms’ cows’ in hopes to have a successful year yourself? Happiness had to be stolen from others in order to gain it yourself. Manners might not be so rough anymore, but it has definitely left a stain. We are afraid to be too happy and feel good. We belittle ourselves. Hell, most of Finns don’t even know how to take a compliment! I’ve deliberately had to learn to say ’thank you’ if someone tells me I have a nice shirt on, because I refuse to be afraid of what someone might think about me if I admitted to it.
In general — Do you think people encourage each other to succeed? Do we want to succeed ourselves? Is the way to success always decorated with broken noses and dirty fingernails? Does someone else always have to lose so that I can win?
God are we messed up.
Out of all the comments I got on my Bonfire video the most memorable one has been ”Good, but too confident.” Oh man. ❤︎ I will forever be wondering about the comment’s linguistic correctness — if the writer literally meant that I was too confident, as in too sure and comfortable on stage, or if they meant that I just seemed like a total ass. A person doing what they love to do, nervous out of their mind. It just titillates me.. and I will never know.
Everyone who works in a public job or does arts of any kind has a certain iron shield, and mine has grown pretty thick so bring on them tomatoes and cabbages. It’s cool. ❤︎ I may have lost a nut along the way, but now I have at least 3. You may try as hard as you like, but there’s just no way for anyone of us to even remotely please everyone at the same time. Like my boyfriend says, every time you bow one way, you’re showing your ass in five others. At the end of the day, nothing else matters but staying true to yourself and respecting your own limits. It’s the only way to create a sustainable highway instead of a tangent. We deserve to be who we want to be. And that’s not something you will ever have to apologize for.
Of course, bring criticized is hard. Having people talk about you like they had the vainest idea about who you are, is hard. It may get pretty bad under the skin, and I believe most of us have an idea what a brain invader like that feels like. Most of us have been bullied, left outside — hell I’ve been publicly made fun of in front of thousands of people. Regularly. And all of those things cut really deep. You might not even know how deep and for how long when it actually happens, but we can all relate to the feeling of losing trust in yourself and feeling ashamed, because of what somebody else has said. Other people’s words have made me a granny before my time. I’m sometimes nervous about trying new things. I can be nervous about talking.. throwing myself out there.. or even walking in public. All kinds of stupid neurosis — all because of something somebody said.
And yet, I have mostly worked in public jobs, as a performer or radio host. Because we choose who we want to be. And that’s why every comment about my annoyingly high self-esteem is a victory to me.
Every time you want to do something that’s out of the mainstream, you will get criticized. I wish I had someone tell me that earlier. I wish I had someone who told me to raise my middle finger up high and not care about what people said, because they don’t matter. Teach that to your kids. Tell them being eccentric is an advantage. Tell them to be hold their head high, but always be kind to others. Raise others in order to be risen. Be team players, even if they had to take one or seven for the team. The world lacks strong people. If you want to be one, you better act like it.
To answer my own question about what I would be if I had been told I was a goddess from cradle — most likely a total dickhead. And because that’s not good for your health, I’m thankful of all the challenges along the way. Having to choose the same goals every day and remembering why. Questioning provokes answers and hardship provides knowledge. Experience. And there’s nothing that can replace that. So, I must’ve needed it all to learn how to stand firmly on my own two despite all the crap and to be able to be truly happy. And that’s a lot.
And lastly — to balance out the confidence talk — I want to share my best fear handling mantra. Coldplay taught me this 10 years ago and it still kicks every time I need it to. So whenever you feel like everything’s going tits up, listen to ”Only Superstition.”
And I guarantee there’s life after the them, too.