This column originally appeared in the May 16, 2014 edition of the Charleston Daily Mail.
We all know those people who seem to have it all together.
They’re never late for work. They always have time to go to the gym. They make shopping lists before they go to the grocery store. They never forget to do laundry and end up using a beach towel after their shower.
I have never been – and suspect I never will be – one of those got-it-all-together people.
In fact, as I’m writing this, I just remembered I forgot to pay this month’s credit card bill. Hold on.
OK, I’m back.
As much as I hate to be this way I can’t seem to do much to change it. I’ve tried.
But there’s something I’ve learned from years of interviewing important people: everybody struggles with something.
Maybe they don’t struggle with the same kind of stuff as me, with the beach towels and credit card bills, but everybody has some thorn in their flesh that makes them feel small and silly.
Successful people just don’t let those insecurities and flaws get in the way of their work. Sometimes you just have to fake it til you make it.
Last month, I had the chance to interview Melissa Etheridge ahead of her performance at the Clay Center.
She was embarking on her first solo tour in a decade. For two weeks she would take the stage without a backing band, supported only by a dozen guitars, some cool effects pedals and a piano.
Etheridge said she liked touring solo because it’s a throwback to her days as a bar musician, but also because working alone is a challenge.
She said for a long time she was not confident in her abilities on the guitar and piano.
“I used to hide behind my band sometimes,” she said.
A legendary rock star, lacking in confidence? What about all those Grammy awards? What about those platinum-selling records?
“It’s funny how you can get onstage and project a certain image, yet inside those voices are telling you something different,” Etheridge said.
She overcame that self doubt by . . . well . . . faking it.
She reorganized her band, making herself the lead guitar player, and found the confidence she needed just by sticking her neck out.
Rodney Crowell, who performs on this Sunday’s “Mountain Stage,” had a similar story to tell.
Crowell said he became confident in his abilities as a songwriter years ago. But he’s just now getting gaining confidence as a recording artist and a singer.
This is the guy who had five No. 1 singles on one album, his 1988 release “Diamonds and Dirt.” He has also written spades of songs that became hits for other artists, including “‘Til I Gain Control Again” for Crystal Gale, “Making Memories of Us” for Keith Urban and “Please Remember Me” for Tim McGraw.
Yet, it has taken Crowell a long time to get comfortable behind a microphone.
“I’m harder on myself than you would ever be,” he told me. “The maturation of my vocal chords has been a long, slow process for me.”
He says his new album, “Tarpaper Sky,” is his best project yet, although he’s not completely satisfied.
But instead of letting that dissatisfaction cripple his creative efforts, Crowell uses it as fuel. It’s what forces him to keep writing and recording, because he hopes someday he’ll reach his full potential.
“I think it would be the kiss of death if I were ever truly satisfied,” he said.
That seems a little bleak, but I think it’s a pretty good way to look at things.
I’m not satisfied with myself right now. But if I keep striving to get better, I might someday be the responsible grown-up I want to be.
Until then I’ll just fake it ’til I make it.