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On ‘Self belief’

I went to the gig of my dear friend, Andrew Vernon, and his band Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster last night.

Not for the first time, the subject came up of what I was doing musically of late. I don’t remember ever being a prolific musician but now I’ve stopped, the cajoling comes bi-weekly: ‘Why don’t you play anymore? What are you, scared?’ said my Aunt last week, when I flat out refused to have anything to do with the ensuing musical entertainment. ‘No, of course not’, I said and tried my best to turn away. This is hard when you’re on a blacony, I have found.

Tonight, a friend we all refer to as ‘Little Andy’ – everyone has these prefixes for friends with common names – who I haven’t seen in over a year now, asked me the same. Perhaps there was a little bit of ‘The Prodigal Son’ going on there but probably for the first time, I was honest about it: ‘I lost my self belief at one point and had to stop’. That concept of self belief is such a money maker. It’s almost as if people think that it comes in a bottle, or that there is some special formula. That if they say some words in a group like ‘Yes, I can’ and walk across some hot coals that it will solve all those perpetual problems they’ve experienced for years. Or that, much like in games like Half Life where you go to a service station and get an armour top up that self belief, too, can be topped up, when really lack of self belief comes from years of not feeling good about oneself or ones abilities. I am scared. I’m scared of what I could possibly write that would have any worth.  Writing about facts and news is easy and rarely requires the author to look within.

Anyway, last night, Little Andy told me he believed in me, and far from the usual sense of fortune cookie cutter sentiment cynicism I usually feel when people tell me this, and the ease with which I play off such encouragement and quickly forget them, I listened. And I felt touched.

It’s nice to feel believed in, even if you’re not really sure yourself what ‘you’ really is.

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