I posted just last week about not knowing what I want to be when I grow up. – Read: When I Grow Up I Wanna Be a Firetruck.
I can’t get this off my mind. I have been thinking and thinking and mulling this idea over in my head and my heart. It all boils down to, “Why did I ever stop doing the things I loved?”
The only tangible reason I can think of was that I was worried about getting hurt.
Yeah, that may seem strange to you. What exactly do I mean by this? I mean part of me was worried that someone wasn’t going to like what I was doing. That part of me was my ego.
That ego. Sometimes I can feign this off as being humble. Compliments are rolled off my shoulder and dismissed so I can make sure to keep that ego in check and also so I can pretend I wasn’t really giving it my all when really I was giving it everything I had.
Of course, dismissing someone who says, “Wow, you did a great job,” and replying with something like, “Thanks, but I was really sick last week so it affected my performance…” is a complete and utter ego block. Think cock-blocking for the egotistical maniac that lives inside, deep down. Giving someone an idea that you weren’t really giving it 100% lets you pretend that you are even better…. the downfall is that you will never actually give that 100%, and yeah, you could do better. You can always do better.
We need to stop doing this. We need to start giving 100% and accept the wonderful consequences and also, be willing to accept the constructive criticism that comes along with it.
Dismissing compliments is not being humble. Ignoring feedback is not being authentic. What it does is limit us within our own personal confine. It sets a bar for us to never reach or overcome and it also isolates us in a way. It creates a divide between us from learning opportunities or networking with other people.
So here’s where it gets scary for me.
I have to overcome.
I have to overcome my ego in order to remember the things I love the most. I have to overcome my ego in order to learn.
I remember when I sat down at the piano when I was around twelve years old. I wanted to be able to play the piano so badly. I listened to a lot of Elton John as a kid and his music was mostly piano-based accompaniment and I thought if one day I was going to sing, it would be with my piano.
I picked up the piano very quickly. This instrument just made complete sense to me. I took piano lessons for two years and learned to read music and play by ear enough to have a lot of fun. I HATED the theory classes so much that I wanted to stab my eyes out, so I eventually stopped going to lessons and I stopped advancing. But, I still tickled the ivories every now and then. I loved how the piano sounded and I felt like the music coming from it was an actual part of my voice.
I never really performed with the piano, I just played it at home. I did a couple of festivals where I was judged on my performance of “The Happy Farmer.” The name of that song sounds ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as when the adjudicator asked me if I was playing, “The Frantic Farmer.” I couldn’t wait to get off that effin’ stage.
I wanted to play the piano because I loved it. What I didn’t love was those times sitting around the campfire with friends and singing songs and realizing how hard it is to drag a piano to a campfire… and how easy it is to bring a guitar.
So, I asked my parents for guitar lessons.
I sucked so hard at guitar.
My parents got me guitar lessons when I was 14 or 15 (I can’t remember as I have tried blocking that from my memory) and I went to maybe 4 of them.
First thing – I just grabbed my Dad’s old guitar that was in storage and off I went. I had no idea that the guitar case had gotten wet and smelled really bad like cat pee. So bad, the instructor had to actually move the case out into the hallway. Mortifying.
Oh, and then I realized that the guitar was nothing like the piano. NOTHING. I had even played the clarinet for years and I consider that closer in comparison to the piano. The guitar is completely foreign and man oh man did my fingers hurt after playing it for a while. Never in my life had a musical instrument literally hurt me. I quickly realized that if I wanted to learn to play this instrument that it was going to take a lot of work.
My ego. Mother effin’ Mr. Big Ego.
I wasn’t progressing fast enough. I wasn’t the light of my teacher’s eye. And frankly, my patience was not quite there. Why wasn’t this coming easy to me? I was afraid it was just a basic fact that I was never going to be good enough to play the guitar. I was never going to be able to make this work. I failed. I failed myself.
Fast forward to two months ago. November, 2017.
My Dad has been literally begging me for about a year or so to come and sing at a jam session/musical night with him. I went. I brought my keyboard and after several years of not performing in public, I did.
I sang my heart out. I played the piano for myself and did it OK. (That’s me being humble and not my ego. I messed up quite a bit and did not practice much.) But, I was so excited to have done this.
What happened inside of me was I felt actual thrill and joy. I DO remember what it is I love. I just need to do it more often. I need to accept that these are my talents and my happiness. I can’t make everyone love it, but I can share it with those who do.
Nothing comes easily. It takes work. It takes perseverance and it takes passion.
So. Overcome ego.
Next week it happens.
I begin guitar lessons once again.
If you like this post, you might like this one too: “One Day You Wake Up and Realize You Don’t Know Everything.”
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