I was walking home along the boardwalk yesterday; enjoying the sun on my face and in particular, time to think about and reflect on what it means to have ‘thick skin’. I’ve heard it said that to have thick skin is a ‘gift from God’; that it takes time and learning to acquire it, and finally, that in order to face life’s rejections, haters and obstacles, it’s all but essential to have it. The very definition of ‘thick-skinned’ is “insensitive to criticism or insults“.
Why the contemplation? Well, I can identify things I want in my life; like strong family connections, a healthy relationship with my partner, financial security, education, a home and a fulfillment from music. The list goes on. I’ve never expected any one of those things to come easy; and in fact, they never have. I continue putting time and effort into my life’s ambitions with a quiet confidence that there’s worth in that patience and dedication. Hopefully that worth is the joy experienced along the way.
On the other hand, within our passioned pursuits there is also much opportunity for disappointment; the ‘nothing comes easy’ part existing in the form of obstacles like a door-slam to the face, criticisms or the many hoops we often have to jump through in order to succeed in our goals. There’s always an opportunity to give up. Rationally, I understand that ‘nothing comes easy’; stumbling blocks are a given; and it’s with this I contemplate how to acquire a hardened sense of logic.
I recall how scary it was in my youth when I was just forging out on my own and having to establish security; similarly, going to University in my 20’s and facing all sorts of intellectual pressures. Being an independent artist without management or a band to my credit also beholds tests of my inner strength. Given this and more I can acknowledge the ‘thick skin’ I had to personally attain in the face of these things yet, on my walk home, I still couldn’t help but feel briefly overwhelmed at the realization that ‘thick skin’ is not only a goal in itself; it’s an on-going process. There is no end. I may have some of it, and I’ve strengthened over the years but I could use some toughening up even still.
It can be discouraging; I certainly began that walk feeling daunted about some of my musical pursuits in particular. In fact I felt downright deflated; but it only took some time and reflection on route home to consider that like anything else worth having, I was, and I am going to have to remain patient; I’m going to have to keep my head up and trust in the process of my future pursuits. Regardless of weather things in our lives turn out exactly as we want them to or not, I’d really rather keep trying, keep getting back up on the horse and giving it another go – than opting to fall to my knees in defeat. With that in mind I found a way to turn around my inner doubts and see them all as part of this process. It didn’t necessarily take away all my discouragement however it did just enough to have me feeling less defeated.
What do you guys think about the thickness of your own skin?