Lesson Learned: You Are Exactly Where You Are Meant To Be
Freelance Sound Designer and ComposerWMII
That’s me!Wayne M Messam II
I feel honored and appreciative that you decided to spend your precious time to hear what I have to say. I am grateful that I have my own little soap box to stand on and express my opinions, but ultimately I make content for anyone out there who have been in my shoes and feel like they need guidance. So if you think this content would be valuable to anyone in your life, I encourage you to share it with them. I want this blog to be as timeless as I can possibly make it and I feel as thought the best way to do that is to be upfront and honest in everything I do in it.
So speaking from a completely transparent place, I want to share one of my many early flaws that took years to overcome and grow into a better human being. Like many of you out there, I have a chronic case of catastrophizing.
I loosely define Catastrophizing as the practice of envisioning the worst of every situation and assuming that it is the only possible outcome to happen. This can relate to anything in life. From work, to your relationships, to the way your communicate, to your hobbies, and even to simple daily decisions. This problem brings a whole new meaning to being your own worst enemy.
We all live our lives the best way we can. We are all human and we all make mistakes. If you are anything like me, then one of your many perspectives on life is that it’s a cruel world with many twists and turns and a lot of challenges that you must overcome that are seemingly endless and impossible to complete. I combat this problem with a process I developed that I hope anyone who is going through what I went through can utilize: Finding Your 0.
Finding Your 0
Finding your 0 is something I want anyone who also catastrophizes to practice so that they can over come it while become a better person and excelling at whatever they do.
Before I explain what Finding your 0 means, let’s take a closer look at what catastrophizing is. Essentially, it can range from anything but all it boils down to is fear. Fear of Failure, Fear of Rejection, Fear of Embarrassment, Fear of being perceived a type of way. Any sort of fear that stops you from taking action because you are scared of the outcome. What we need to recognize is that when we fear what is unknown, we are only operating from a negative point of view. And that is the point where you are destined to fail to reach your highest potential.
For example, If you had a Game Audio Educational Livestream you had to host tomorrow like that lovable college student above had, (Which you can check out here: Demystifying Game Audio: Sound Design / Composing) you probably thought forwards and backwards about everything negative that tomorrow was going to bring. Stop That! The moment you go down a hole of negativity like that, you become your own worst nightmare by creating and feeding a system that is actively keeping you in a loop of mental failure. Immediately, you lose your sense of self and you come to terms with the worst version of yourself instead of giving yourself the mental nourishment you need to pick yourself up, look life in the face, and say “Yea, I got this.”
But how do we mentally get there when we are already in that constant loop of negativity that continues to grow? That’s where finding your 0 comes into play. Realize that reality isn’t what you think. No one has any way of knowing if a college wide event will be successful or not! All we can do is prepare and hope for the best. Because in reality, anything could happen! The president of FAU could shut down the whole operation leaving you with literally no event and leaving you in negative standing with your supporters! Ok maybe that won’t happen, but more realistically, Zoom could have a systemwide failure during your Facebook livestream your event! OR…… A special sponsor could show up at your event and because you faced the challenge of hosting the event head on, they want you to join their team on their next project! What can happen is up in the air, but the point is it’s up to you to figure out how you will handle situations when you are in them, not when you aren’t.
Have you figured out what I mean by finding your 0 is yet? Yes! All it has to do is realizing that life is not only unpredictable, but bigger and more complicated than you can imagine. Your fears, no matter how small or big, are out of your control when things are already in motion. So finding a level of being neutrality is the only kind of preparation that can help you fight of catastrophizing.
“But Wayne, I want to be more than content! I want to exceed expectations and be the best I can be!”
Well my good friend, all you need to realize is that you are exactly where you are meant to be. No matter what situation you are in, you could not have gotten there without the efforts of your past. Now that you have found your 0, it’s time to build momentum into your future by doing some deep reflecting.
Optimism and Breaking Limits
If you are in a position like the above example where you are just about to start a new venture that you have never done before, you might find it weird to hear some game audio professional talk about reflection in a moment of doing your next big thing, but trust me when I say that this is the best thing you can do to mentally prepare yourself to do anything new. After all, the hardest part of doing anything new is starting, so if you are looking to prepare to do your very best, recognize that everything you have done in the past has led you to this moment.
Ask yourself why you are here in this moment in time and be honest with yourself. What skills have you acquired? Who helped you get there? When did you start feeling like this is something that you NEED to do? Where were you when you first thought this? How different are you from then to where you are now?
The answer you find will give you a better sense of who you are now and how much you have grown since the start of your journey. Because no one started exactly where they are now, everyone clawed their way up because that’s all we can do to move forward.
Because you have gone through this reflection now of all times in your life, when you feel the most unprepared you have ever felt, you now realize that not only are things out of your control, but in reality, you are already the best version of yourself. This next chapter of your life will require all the collective perspectives, lessons, people, and skills you have been cultivating in order to achieve your goal. But the only difference is now you know that if you fail, it will never be because of you.
Of course though, we are all human and who is to say that in your darkest time you will forget this lesson on how not to catastrophize? The point is to choose to do your best no matter what and never giving up. Because the worst thing that you can do when looking fear in the face is accepting defeat from yourself before anyone else.
“I don’t know… It still sounds like your telling me to be content….”
Well, let me put it in simpler terms. If you were like me in college, you probably had no direction on how to get better in a field you had to learn about yourself and teach yourself. To be at a point where I hosted a live stream of game audio professionals after 1 year of even finding out game audio was a thing?! You better believe I had major imposter syndrome! The pressure to be excellent in a space that is completely foreign is something we all want. Reflecting on everything I learned put me in a frame of mind that everything that is about to happen is because of everything I have done, not everything that I am going to do.
If I want to get better on sound design, there’s no getting around doing more projects and developing my skills. If I want to be more confident when approaching other sound designers, there’s no getting around meeting them, talking with them, and learning from them and the community. If I want to make the song that rivals Marti O’Donnell’s Halo Opening, there’s no getting around composing more songs.
The point of breaking your limits is to break the ceiling between where you are and where you want to be. How can you know where you are if you aren’t reflecting on where you came from?
Getting Back To 0
This is often the point where ego takes over for people. There’s nothing wrong with being where you are. There’s nothing wrong with knowing where you come from. Many people find success in different ways, but something that I personally noticed across the board is a high number of influencers and game changers revisiting who they were in a sense of distanced familiarity.
The greatest of us wanted the best for themselves but they couldn’t have achieved it without going over their flaws and mistakes so that they can learn from them.
Don’t let ego tell you that you need to be the best right now. The plateau of being consumed by it will leave you not only frustrated and pretentious, but also with limited resources. Instead, just be yourself. Flaws and all. It’s only natural and apart of life that we want to be better and do better.
So instead of taking the easy way out, follow the teachings of your superiors and uplift the ones who need help. Your mentors teach you what you never know and your peers teach you the different dimensions of yourself. The culmination of all of these perspectives make up you and having awareness of all aspects of yourself is the way to success. Just like how 2020 Wayne handled that livestream.
Humble yourself by finding your 0 and push yourself to reflect on your past so that you can gain value from yourself. The more you continue this process, the more you will start to appreciate others and the value they bring into your life. It can seem like some people are going faster than you, but in reality, we are all taking OUR time. No one is waiting for you in life and you aren’t waiting for anyone in turn except yourself.
Wait Until It’s Your Turn
I couldn’t have made the amount of progress on my life as I have without the people I have been exposed to and the people that I have taught along the way.
My peers teach me micro detail and my mentors teach me macro concepts. It could be different for everyone, but I grew up this way and having an awareness of that fact has only expedited my learning across the board.
The more I stopped wondering when it would be my turn for my congratulations, the more I ended up just appreciating the value I was getting from my peers and mentors.
So if you get anything out of this post, just keep pushing and keep working hard. You are exactly where you are meant to be and just wait until it’s your turn!