As a drummer in my college’s jazz program, I once got recruited by one of the jazz guitarists for a paying gig he’d gotten at a local restaurant.
I was interested not just because of the money, which was negligible (not that there is such a thing for broke college kids) but because the idea of being paid to perform with an ad hoc ensemble felt very adult and professional. It was a unique feeling for an introverted 20 year old who was still unsure about his abilities and place among his peers.
The night of the gig, I’m getting situated with the guitarist and bassist, another college-aged recruit whom I’d never met. We’re about to start playing.
I’d drummed publicly many times before: high school jazz band, high school garage band, church services, college jazz ensemble. But this time felt different. Suddenly, the allure of being a very adult professional dissipated and, struck by imposter syndrome, my insecurity leaked out.
I said to the bass player, “You know, I’m not really a gigging musician…”
He gave me a kind of wry smirk. “Nice little disclaimer there,” he replied.
The guitarist counted us in and we were off. I pretty quickly settled in and regained confidence in my abilities and right to be there. The gig went fine, and I certainly appreciated the cash.
This memory has stuck with me years later because it gave me a valuable life lesson:
Don’t kneecap yourself before you begin whatever it is you think you can’t possibly do. Even if you suck (which you won’t), just do it and then move on. That’s all you can do.
I deserved the bassist’s smirk. How could I not be a gigging musician when I was seconds away from playing music at a gig?
If you think you aren’t ready, you are. If you think you aren’t good enough, you are.