On July 6th, my manager informed me that my song “Indigo Boy” had been nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance. I will pause here for your disbelief. Took me a minute too.
My instant reaction was to challenge the assertion by asking a multitude of questions and doing a bunch of research on how Grammy nominations are given out, and what the full process was. Indeed, one of the traits that makes me a good engineer is my penchant towards constant skepticism, but it tends to be tiresome for those that I work with. (Can’t she have a little faith?!)
Turns out that it’s true – the nomination is real, and I’m playing in a sandbox to which I never imagined I would even get an invitation. (You can read more about the process here.) The day I started telling people about it, though, my worst personal demons emerged and threatened to turn what should have been a moment of pride and joy into one of insecurity and doubt. Innocent yet ludicrous questions such as “how come it doesn’t show up online”, “will you perform there” and “can I be your date” showed me what people really assume when they hear you’re nominated for a Grammy, instead of understanding how long the process is and how many people it starts with.
I provided honest explanations, but inside, I started to panic that I had misled people by crowing about an achievement that wasn’t real. Then, as if sent by an angel of mercy, my friend Dianne posted an article about a phenomenon known as Impostor Syndrome, and I realized with a pang how hard on myself I was being. Every word of the article rang true. I was terrified that in reality, I only knew the right people to score this nomination, that I had exploited some loophole and I was only part of the “filler” nominations whose numbers serve to validate the main nominees – the major label winners – the actual artists. The article:
“In the competitive arts industry, in many ways you can be ‘lucky’ to secure work – especially at the early stages of a career. But such ‘luck’ does not diminish your aptitude for a role. ‘I think it is easy in the arts to feel a sense of luckiness, but luckiness is not luck. Just because you are lucky to have a role or to be in a position, doesn’t mean that you are not deserving or that it is “lucky” to get that job.’ ”
Didn’t I work my tail off for three solid years writing and creating this album? Didn’t I use every faculty available to me, from piano training to voice training, negotiation to self-control, perseverance to flexibility, to get to where I am? The answer is unequivocally yes. And more importantly, all those things were necessary to get to this point.
My biggest revelation from reading the piece was that in constantly doubting the validity of my successes, I am not only doing myself a disservice but am minimizing the investment and sacrifice of all of those who have been part of this journey. My producer. My manager. My family.
So with a better knowledge of myself, I’m able to say with a straight face that Indigo Boy is nominated for a Grammy. (OMFG!!!!! 🙂 🙂 ) No, I won’t be going there and rubbing shoulders with Rihanna, and by the time you finish reading this there is a good chance that I will already be out of the running. But that doesn’t matter. Because if I fully turn off my mind to the politics around a contrived awards process, close my eyes, and simply listen to the song, it doesn’t just feel real – it feels right.