Oooooo, shiny!

Let’s talk about distractions. Did I need to buy new shorts before I started training for the marathon? Absolutely not. I’ve been an active person for a lot of my life and I have plenty of athletic clothes. Did I buy new shorts? Yes, yes I did. I bought 4 new pairs of shorts because they were on sale. They weren’t expensive, but I didn’t need them. I could have (and do) run without them, using what I already have. Buying new, exciting things is a way to distract from the fear of failure. New things are a place to put your attention that has nothing to do with your abilities. They are exciting and not scary - and possibly something to blame later for not meeting your own expectations.

There will always be things out there that might improve your performance, but there are also a lot of shiny distractions from what you fear you’re unable to do without enhancing what you already are and have. This is an attempt to solve a problem (or more accurately, cover a weakness) before there even is one. I’ve poked around on the internet, looking at all kinds of “gear” that has no effect on my running. When I catch myself doing this, I’ve started to ask, “What am I afraid of?” It’s often just before a long run or after I’ve revised my goals.

I do the same thing with music - and I know lots of other musicians who do this too. When I have something to prepare, suddenly there are other scores that I need to look at for things that I might sing some day. Sometimes they’re scores I don’t even own. I’ll look for friends and teachers that own them, go to the library, look at how much they would cost to purchase, etc. When I have an assignment for school, you’d better believe I’m putting it off so I can look at other books on a similar topic that I’d like to own.

All of these things are marginally related to the task in front of me, but they’re also all daydreams. They carry no risk of failure. I’ve gotten pretty good at not avoiding things I fear I might not be good at right away (without diving into the total unpreparedness in which there is no wrong answer that I love so dearly), but there will always be distractions.

Can you begin to recognize your distractions? What is left when you take them away? I’ll tell you. It’s you. Simply you.

Alexandra Kassouf