Metaphorically speaking, that is.
See, it seems I have a never-ending supply of false stories that I believe in.
I call them self-installed glass ceilings.
Glass ceilings, because they limit not just what I can do, but what I believe I can do. Self-installed, because ultimately I am the one who subscribes to these stories — I’m the one holding myself back.
And ultimately I am the only one who can bust the glass ceilings, too.
Want some examples?
I don’t have the moneymaking gene — other people can make money, but not me.
Creativity is reserved only for the special few, not for regular folks like me.
Writing is hard, I’m not good at it, and that means I should quit.
I’ve bought into each one of the false stories above — and a lot more, too — keeping myself hunched over, playing the victim. Those self-installed glass ceilings kept me from moving forward, and provided a very convenient excuse, too!
Here are some others:
I need big chunks of time to do my creative thing; I can’t possibly get anything worthwhile accomplished in less than three hours.
My studio will always be a horrendous cluttercave; I’m incapable of creating a spacious, low-clutter work space.
I can’t sing.
Yep, I’ve believed fiercely in each of the above, too. All lies — glass ceilings that I’ve installed over my own head. Thankfully, though, I shattered them all, proved each one of them false, once I realized what they were.
How to Smash a Self-Installed Glass Ceiling
The great thing about shattering self-installed glass ceilings is that just realizing that one is there does a good deal of the work for you.
Simply accepting that a story is a lie sends a network of cracks running through the glass, making it much easier to dismantle.
The tricky thing is that self-installed glass ceilings are hard to see, being transparent.
If you believe, for example, that creativity is reserved only for the few, not for regular folks like you and me, well, it feels like The Truth, doesn’t it? It’s hard to recognize it for what it is: a story, a belief, a self-installed glass ceiling.
But once you’ve recognized one self-installed glass ceiling in your life, you start to become better at noticing others.
Or, at least, let’s just say you’re maybe more aware that they might be there. Glass is still transparent, after all.
My Latest Glass-Smashing Adventure
Every time I find a new self-installed glass ceiling, I get a little jolt of glee (along with a hefty dose of embarrassment. “Really? I believed that?“)
Just the other day I found another glass ceiling. I’ve been shopping around for a looper — a device to allow me to record and layer audio “loops” of my voice and my ukulele (or any other sound, really), in order to compose and improvise new songs.
This is pretty silly, but the truth is, I got stuck on this false story that I needed a particular kind of looper in order to get started. Since my ultimate goal is to be able to perform onstage, and even improvise live with a looper, I thought I needed on of these or one of these.
So I spent a lot of time reading reviews, researching which looper is better for what I want to do, thinking about where I wanted to put my hard-earned money.
Meanwhile (this is the really embarrassing part), a number of people had told me that there are very inexpensive apps (including free) that allow you to loop on your iPhone, but that info went in one ear and out the other.
No, I thought, I had to wait until I had the perfect tool.
This is sort of like saying you can’t possibly write unless you have the perfect fountain pen and 100% rag paper; or until you have a MacBook Air and an antique roll-top desk.
Hogwash. Just pick up whatever tool is around and start writing.
It’s like saying you can’t make art until you have a complete set of the best oil paints, an expensive easel, and a full set of natural bristle brushes, in a studio with North light, overlooking the ocean.
Nonsense. Grab a paper napkin and a ball point pen and draw, dammit!
The conditions do not have to be perfect in order to start! They just have to be good enough. And you just have to start.
Thankfully, in all of the time I spent researching (time, I will note, that I could have spent looping), I was reminded that, hey, there are inexpensive apps for that!
So I downloaded a few to my phone and got started.
Bam! Self-installed glass ceiling shattered!
I’ve been looping almost every day ever since, “making messes in the Creative Sandbox” and having a blast.
Here’s today’s experiment:
Do my looping apps let me do everything I need? No, I’ll need some additional equipment in order to perform live, but in the meantime, I’m starting to build up some skills and figure out how this looping thing works, which I’d have to do before I could roll it out in a live performance anyway.
But in the meantime, instead of spending two or three more years stalling, I’m looping. (If you want to hear more of what I’ve been up to, in the spirit of embracing imperfectionism [egad — all I can hear is the places I’m out of pitch!], I’ve been sharing my experiments — you can find them here on the blog, or you can follow me over on SoundCloud.)
Here’s to shattering self-installed glass ceilings! I hope this inspires you to grab a metaphorical baseball bat and smash some of your own.
PS — Pssst! Know someone who might benefit from seeing this today? Pass it on!