Exposure Chasm

Day 258 Week 37 Q3 Saturday, September 16, 2023

If you are a creative outlier, there comes a time when you need to share your work. Even professional musicians get stage fright. None enough to paralyze them, or they could not be professional musicians, but enough to cause them to have to deal with.  We use it to make us sharp and improve our performances. When I was a competitive diver, it was also frightening at times to do a difficult dive.  This was also true when I was a gymnast.

But when you are creating a permanent work, such as a book or a piece of classical music, and there is no physical event deadline, as clearly defined as a curtain going up, there still can be some hesitation and fear to expose your work to the world.  It is only natural. If you were an entrepreneur of presenting a business plan to a funding source, there is also the same hesitation.

These are all very natural feelings, and everyone experiences them. Over time if you perform a lot, or present, a lot, or publish a lot, the fear and hesitation diminish.  It can even vanish, or more likely, we become better at managing our feelings. Once we have often exposed our works and thoughts, our coping mechanism can kick in faster and faster.

But there is still a chasm that has to be crossed every time you expose yourself.  I suppose there are self-centered narcissists who truly believe that the world will love everything they do and have no hesitation about whether or not their performance is up to snuff. At least they tell themselves that, but I find it hard to believe that a normal, well-balanced, sensitive person who exposes themselves has no fear or hesitation.

Of course, all of us who have to expose ourselves learn how to cross this chasm. For some, it is easy, and for some, it is terrifying. Many people never even revisit their works because they know they will give themselves such a hard time about the quality of what they have completed. Some of these people are famous filmmakers or musicians who have always received excellent reviews in the past.  They know they can still get a bad review and do not want to read these reviews or review themselves either.

Then there are times when we have worked for a long time on something that we are just happy to get out of our head and out into the world and feel such a great sense of relief that we don’t really notice the chasm.  We may not even be thinking about the fact that we will be exposing ourselves shortly as this work enters the outside world.

The bottom line is until we get into a feedback loop with external reality, not just what is going on in our head, we cannot learn and grow and be psychologically healthy in our acts of exposure. So we have to cross the exposure chasm, like it or not, comfortable or not.