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Overcoming Insecurities Around Performance

"Podunk Bluegrass Festival 2021 Late night gazebo jam with Grammy award winning and 10 time International Bluegrass Fiddle Player of the Year winner, Michael Cleveland"

Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with my mentor Christian Howes about overcoming insecurities around playing and teaching.

I've had a lot of problems with confidence - often comparing myself or my progress to those who grew up around this music, or those who studied music performance.

I felt like by studying music education, I wasn't as "committed" to art and my musicianship as many of my peers.

Since I came into bluegrass music after having committed to Western Connecticut State University, I watched with awe and admiration the rapid growth of many of my close friends who were attending Berklee College of Music - the bastion of roots music in the Northeast.

When I started to gain some facility, I felt like a "fake" - like my successes were not worthy of approval. I felt undeserving of new opportunities.

Thankfully, I've been able to confront a lot of these insecurities this year.

The biggest game-changer for me was finding an encouraging support system.

I've received amazing support and encouragement from mentors like Chris, Andy Reiner, and Peter Wernick. These are the people that believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. They told me what I needed to hear just at the right moment and their timely feedback made this journey possible.

I’ve also been encouraged and challenged by my bandmates in the Angry O’Haras, On the Trail, and the Rock Hearts. These folks kept me musically sharp and our professional journey together has helped me grow steadily as a musician over the years.

The other part would be taking control of my health and wellness. I've put a lot of work into preparing myself emotionally, mentally, and physically for performance.

It started in college when I was taking a heavy courseload and adopted intermittent fasting and bulletproof coffee as a regular part of my morning routine.

That evolved into incorporating healthy foods and supplement- all part of something called biohacking, where you are tracking your biology through tests and journaling, then altering your environment to get more control over it.

When I was preparing to perform in a high-caliber bluegrass band, I resolved to intentionally build more mental resilience and grit. I starting going to a health and wellness center that provided all sorts of services that I had been reading high performers were involved with.

They have cryotherapy, Ice baths, infrared saunas, Photo-biomodulation, and compression therapies. My favorite is called “Fire and Ice” when you go from 45 minutes in 175 degree heat to 5 minutes submerged in the ice bath.

It has physical benefits, but the ice bath for me is also about mental resilience. It’s never easy to do, but each rep is teaching my brain “You can do difficult things”.

I've created a playlist on my YouTube channel dedicated to Health and Wellness - Check it out

Feeling grateful today for slow and steady progress.

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