feature: how i beat anxiety (at least, for now)

September 29, 2014

Are you currently having trouble trying to face your anxiety head on? Do you always feel this need to be perfect and think that just because you aren’t perfectly tuned-up, you might not ever make it anywhere? I got a present for you. But first, I am going to explain the premise behind it. I’m sure I’m not the only musician or songwriter that hates hearing the imperfection in his vocals. Or when I write a song or an album, I have trouble figuring out the perfect way to begin. As it turns out, this kind of thing happens all the time, and the more you get caught up in it, the more you’ll never really be able to accomplish anything.

By Lightning Pill, AFROPUNK Contributor *

For years, this need to do things right, this need to not fuck up anything has added to my insecurities about doing music. It has slowed me down on my project, it has stressed me out a bit and made me all kinds of jealous of people who have got it together. It made me want to be better, so I wind up thinking where to start, thinking I started out wrong, and the cycle of wanting to do things right or wanting to impress people happens all over again. Because of that, not a single thing gets done.
In retrospect, I wonder exactly how I got here. I remember when in college, I would write songs with my guitar, and even though they didn’t sound great and I was heavily insecure with my voice, I would still put them out. What changed?
Well, after writing a song the other night, I figured out that one of the main problems that held me back was this need to impress people. It has to do with this newfound yearn to be taken completely seriously. I’ve been doing music ever since I was 20, and each practice led me to want to make better music. What made me happy about making music was that I didn’t have to impress everybody. I wanted to be a better musician, songwriter or singer for me, not for everybody else.
The moment that I turn my projects over to an extensive focus group, I start to lose this sense of self. I lose the creativity and determination that it took to make what I wanted to people who never understood what I was trying to do. Even though, I do care to a point what people think, the last thing I wanted to do was take into account that people want to take what I do and turn it into something else. Having this need to please people can do that to you: make you want to do anything for approval, even though you risk losing what you though made you so special to yourself.

As Jay Smooth would put it, it’s like having our own little hater inside of us. This video would probably explain it a lot better than me.

So, what I did to get rid of my anxiety was that I stopped caring what people thought. I continued to be myself, continued to work on myself, and remembered that anxiety usually comes from this need to please people who a) are looking for something to complain about, b) has incredibly rigid ideas of normalcy and/or c) at the end of the day, don’t give a flying fuck about you. Fuck them. For most anxious people, the idea of people not caring what you do can trigger anxiety in itself, and once again, that is due to being superficial about yourself. The more you realize either how little people give a fuck about what flaws or eccentricities you may carry or how inevitable it will be that people will talk shit about you for whatever reason, the more you will at least be content with who you are. You’ll at least be able to shrug the comments off.

My little hater, just like Jay Smooth’s, has always been out to remind me that I don’t sound as good as everyone else. Then months after my realization, I reminded myself that the little hater is the one who is trying to drag you down from afar. He tells you that things don’t matter, what you are doing is pointless, and you aren’t that good at doing it. The trick to what he does is that he is projecting his own insecurity and inadequacy onto you. If he can’t make it, you can’t make it. If he is a piece of shit, you are a piece of shit. All while he is aiming to bring you down, he is doing absolutely nothing to back up his need to say that because he doesn’t do what you do and probably has problems trying.
Anyway, I have always been a little back and forth about the quality of my voice. I can muster enough for a soul track, but I hadn’t always gathered the guts to except all that my mortality entails. One day, I decided that in order to beat my anxiety, I have to just say “fuck it”. Fuck the keyboard. Fuck this need to sound like someone who is better than you. Fuck this need to put so much pressure on what you do. Fuck it all. Turn on the computer, pull up a recorder and sing. Immediately. Yes, a cappella, negro.
So, I went and wrote me some lyrics and some the song a if it was an R&B song because sometimes, the only thing you can do to beat your anxiety or those demons haunting you is whatever you can do. Not only is that a good way to start, but facing your mistakes could motivate you into being at your best afterwards. Keep doing it, drink some water, harmonize and blow. This isn’t the first time I sang acapella, but it is the first time I did it with the intent to break out of any kind of anxiety I harbored during that time.
So, what I am going to do for you is completely show myself and sing “How To Beat Anxiety”, The imperfections are very few, but hopefully, my song inspires you to take on your imperfections. More stuff to come in the future.

* Lightning Pill is a blogger, poet, singer-songwriter, composer, Aspie, etc. from Dorchester, MA. You can reach him at or visit his Afropunk website. His Soundcloud can be found here and his main Bandcamp found here. Also here for the new agers. His new website is coming soon. Don’t be afraid to pass by and say what’s up!