It’s odd. You do something for almost your entire adult life and some part of you somewhere inside doesn’t register that experience or wisdom. Some part of you stays insulated, young and scared.
I don’t think the idea of ‘self-parenting’ ever really registered with me. I understand it as a concept, intellectually, but I don’t think I’ve ever consciously engaged it, ever. I do it. I don’t do it well. I do it instinctively because I have no choice at my core if I want to succeed at anything. After a point it’s really about persistence and rising to the fucking occasion no matter what, over and over and over, until that sad, scared kid can't dictate your emotions or confidence. That doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle sometimes. I think too much and a lot of that thought goes into me trying to talk myself out of the fact that I’m okay. I’m more than okay. I am doing well.
I’ve just been surprised lately that waves of insecurity and self-hatred are coming at me intensely. In a way they haven’t in years. I’ve been struggling to interpret them. Why now? I mean, I talk about this shit all the time but when I’m sitting in my hotel room feeling like I don’t work hard enough or I’m a fraud or I’m not funny or I’m fat or I have no real friends or I’m not capable of being happy or I don’t know who I am or or or… I have to really try to source where that shit is coming from.
I was just in Boston at the Wilbur for two shows and they were really great. The crowds were amazing and I had a good time on stage. So, why was I laying in my hotel room before the shows full of dread and fear about whether or not I could do them? I know in the past that was the way I prepared. I didn’t want that to be the way but that was just the way my brain worked. I would freak out to the point where the show seemed like it a matter of life or death. My whole sense of self relied on how I did. Sometimes things would work out and sometimes I would be so shattered it would take days to put myself back together. It doesn’t help in any way to allow that much panic and anxiety to fuel your life. You’re adding a mountainous obstacle to something that is already challenging.
I come from panicky people who were never really capable of making me feel like everything was going to be okay because they didn’t believe it. Even if it was a lie, it’s not a horrible thing to tell a kid. Let them learn on their own that it may not be okay for while or ever but there’s nothing wrong with convincing them that it will be eventually be okay so that they can use that idea to get through the times when it's not. I never really had that. I never believed it. So, now that things are okay, for now, why should I believe it?
So, while I was laying there in my room in Boston, a place where I went through a lot of difficult changes and emotional upheaval earlier in my life, both professionally and personally, I did not think it was going to be okay. The parts of me that were created there, in college and then doing horrible comedy shows, were triggered. It was definitely not okay then. I was not okay. My parents were right. It’s not okay. So, that kid takes over occasionally. The kid that knows deep in his heart that it will not be okay. Fortunately, the man I am has been through a lot of shit and may not be perfect or right most of the time but is capable of walking that kid across the street, over the mountain the kid made, to the club to do my job and be present for it, to the amazement of the kid.
Today I talk to Katie Couric. How can you not love Katie Couric? On Thursday I sit down with one of the best songwriters ever, John Prine. It was a treat to be with both my guests this week.