Put one foot in front of the other.

Author: Alex Goodin

This is a blog post about music, overcoming fear, and first steps.

On May 16, 2013, I graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in music performance.  It was a gorgeous day, and after the ceremony, all of my dearest friends (my housemates) and I held a graduation party in our backyard.  Beer was flowing from ‘dat keg, and incredible love and warmth was flowing from my MSU family.  But while my friends laughed outside, I stood in my room with my parents and sisters, and I just cried.  I didn’t feel accomplished or proud or even happy; what I did feel was this overwhelming anger, frustration, and fear.  I looked forward in my life, and I felt absolutely helpless.

Now time for a disclaimer.  As it turns out, MSU prepared me for the “what” beautifully.  My bass teacher and friend and inspiration and shoulder to cry on if I needed it, Jack Budrow, taught me not only about bass and music, but also about life and how to be a good person.  The raw energy, intensity, and artistic vision of Kevin Noe taught me to pursue art relentlessly, help others tenaciously, be a leader, and NEVER give up.  I use music theory every day to arrange music and try to understand its mysteries.  The “what” was there.  What I was missing was the “how.”

Fast-forward two years.  Last night, Palaver publicly launched our website.  This is a culmination of a series of challenges that seemed, to my 2013 self, insurmountable.  And to a real extent, it was true.  At twenty-two years old, I didn’t have the tools to build a website, be a graphic designer, or co-run a chamber orchestra, but I did have the tools to find a book at the library or watch a YouTube video.  I had the tools to take one single step forward.

Taking the first step can feel jumping off a cliff, with a roller coaster free-fall and a tremendous crash-landing failure sure to follow.  But in the past two years of developing projects, I’ve realized an important distinction.  You don’t have to succeed at your whole project at one time.  All you need is to succeed at the next step.  Once that’s done, keep your head up for the next step, and the next.  That first step can be incredibly easy and simple.  Read a book or blog, watch a video, send someone you know an email, send someone you don’t know an email, talk to someone who inspires you (I’m free for a coffee date), write down an idea in your idea notebook.  In order to take that step, you might have to break your inertia, but once you’re moving, it’s one of the most rewarding and exciting journeys you can take.  I promise :)

So step off the cliff with me.  Dream big and don’t be afraid.  Take control of your inertia, your art, and your life.  Don’t wait for people to give you things, knowledge, and opportunity.  Go out and grab it for yourself.  Do it today.

If you want to talk about stuff, lemme know.

Alex Goodin