Comfort Zones, Confidence & What Frank Turner Has Got To Do With Both

This post was rather difficult to write, because I had no idea how to pin down or find the right words for all the emotions and the few epiphanies I experienced during the wonderful four days of the Lost Evenings last week in Camden Town, London. I also didn’t want this post to give out too much of a weird “Frank Turner changed my life” vibe. While on the other hand I still wanted to make clear that indeed “(some of the things I did because I love) Frank Turner (and his art) changed my life (at least a little bit).” It’s a difficult middle ground to find sometimes.

Among all the wonderful moments with old friends and new ones, the amazing shows Frank & the Souls had put on, the dancing at after show parties or doing my first pub quiz ever, there are two moments / memories from this weekend that will stick with me for a long while and for which I’m incredibly grateful. The first one because it seems like another jigsaw piece falling into place in the still ongoing puzzle, why Frank and his music, but also a lot of things he says and does, touches me and strikes chords within me, like no other artist before ever did. The second one, maybe just because I like to take my motivational inspiration from wherever and whomever I like :-)

About a year ago, after having finally met and/or connected with some other Frank fans after having been a single gig-goer or traveller for almost two years prior to that, I wrote a post about “looking for *my* Frank Turner people”. Some of those issues have resolved themselves by now, because I have found some more great people to hang out and to go to shows with and to talk to about other things than Frank or music in general. But sometimes I still feel very self-conscious and honestly still a bit out-of-place. In that post last year I already stated that I know it all stems back to my whole baggage of self-esteem issues and anxieties and such. And I’m not going to bore you with all the reasons my stupid mind comes up to tell me why I’m just a 2nd class Frank fan. The fact remains, I still – more often than not – meet new folks or folks I only know fleetingly from the web yet, with quite a lot of trepidation. Worrying about saying the wrong things, revealing my (presumed) ignorance about other music acts, worrying about leaving a bad impression. It’s always a big step out of my comfort zone. The difference from my first almost two years as a Frank fan is, that despite all the worrying, I show up anyway. You might not realize it when you are meeting me, but it sometimes takes conscious effort (and a good talking to in my head) to not bow out of a pre-gig-dinner date or to chat up a random fan next to me while we’re finding our spot in the first few rows. Conscious effort to not retreat into my shell (or ‘hide’ by doing things on my phone). Conscious effort to simply be gregarious.

Which now – finally! ;-) –  brings this post back to Frank. Not just because I first learned the word gregarious (i.e. fond of company, sociable) when he used it during his panel on Sunday afternoon. But most of all, because of how he talked about having to learn to be a (more) gregarious person himself, when he started out as solo artist, travelling all over the UK with just his backpack and his guitar singing songs to a few people in a shady pub. I think I recall he even stated that it sometimes took conscious effort on his part, to be more outgoing and social. And I sat there and thought “Yeah, I know that feeling very well right here on this very weekend.” I’ve had to take quite a few steps out of my comfort zone that weekend and it was always, always worth it and I’m so grateful for all the experiences and memories. But it remains: it took some effort on my part. And knowing that Frank as the artist I like and admire, has had similar experiences, is in a weird way kind of comforting. Like so many of his songs are a comfort sometimes, because he sings about emotions and situations I can so very well relate to. Like I said: Another jigsaw piece. Maybe…

The “confidence” thing, well, it ties in with the self-esteem and worrying issues I’ve already mentioned above. It something else I need and want to work on and I think stepping out of my comfort zone and be social and to make all the lovely experiences with old and new friends did help with building up my confidence bit by tiny bit. But what I’ve also been reminded of that weekend was, that I have to learn to shut up the negative voice in my mind. To learn to care less about what (I assume) some other people might think of me. Or to put it like Frank probably would: To just not give a f*ck! To just be me and to feel comfortable in who I am and what I do and how I do it.

In a totally arbitrary and fangirly way – and also because it’s my memory and my mind and that’s where I rule – I’ve decided to use the 2nd most memorable moment of this weekend as a reminder for how to not worry all that much about what other people might think. To just do my thing and enjoy it. That memorable moment was Frank’s DJ set on Saturday evening. Because his choice of songs, but even more so, because the way he went all out by dancing and singing along behind the DJ desk, looked to me like he didn’t care one bit, if anyone in the room might think he looked “not cool” or dorky or whatever. To join in with all the KooKooKangaRoo’s dance moves. To at one point belt out vintage Bon Jovi for crying out loud. And even if the latter might have been meant to be tongue-in-cheek, he looked like he unabashedly had fun doing it. Tons of it. It was a joy to see and for some reason that particular moment stuck with me and will continue to do so, I think. To be pulled out of the mental drawer when I need a lovely reminder on how to sometimes just give “less of a f*ck”.

“Oooohoooh, we’re half way there…”

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