Updated: Oct 30, 2018
About a year ago, I had a dream (yes, I channeled MLK for a moment) that I bought a guitar. The next day, I decided to go and check out 5th Century Music. The guys there are quite awesome by the way!! That day, I bought a simple acoustic guitar and signed up for guitar lessons as well. At that moment, I never knew I would soon develop one of the greatest love/hate relationships of my life, and with an inanimate object to boot. You see, this little piece of wood with some strings on it has managed to do something that nothing else in my life has been able to accomplish – it forced me to be with my feelings. As much as I loved the guitar, loved the lessons, loved singing and being oh so cool because I “played” now – I still fought actually doing it as much as I should have. The pattern I developed looked a bit like this: I would have a lesson with my fab instructor, love every minute of it, leave determine to do my homework, would get home distract myself by watching some Youtube videos, cleaning out the link trap in the dryer, etc, etc. As you might be able to deduce, this pattern did little to move me along in my efforts. I’ll save you some time and energy, unfortunately you cannot learn to play guitar by exclusively holding it and watching videos about it. To learn, I just actually had to practice consistently.
Which led me to the realization of my biggest issue with it - oh so many times when I was alone and trying to practice I would avoid it like the plague. And why, you might ask? Because strumming those strings, feeling the music I was creating, made me feel what I’ve avoided for so long. It made me feel the things I wasn’t even aware of, the heartache, the hurt, the pain, the suffering. But there was one small issue, I wanted to play so very badly. Some very deep part of me that has been begging to come out, has been begging to be felt and expressed kept me pushing forward. So here I was in this standoff, night after night with this object that I couldn’t control, couldn’t manipulate, couldn’t force to do my bidding and it pissed me off to no end. All I could do was just sit there with it, while it mocked me and reminded me of all my failures as a person.
My second beef with this poor, cute, little guitar is that unbeknownst to me, during some point in my life I had developed this perfectionism disease. It was buried so deeply into my heart and soul that I didn’t even recognize it until I sat down with this carrier of misery (ok, I’m exaggerating a bit). Every time I strummed the wrong string, hit the wrong fret, it was like the guitar was telling me what an utter screw up I was. I hadn’t realized until these moments that my entire life I thought that if I could do enough, was perfect enough – that I would be ok, that I would be loveable. I just had to be perfect and then I would be enough. Because, that’s what it boiled down to for me, I had this very deep belief that I was not “ok”. I wasn’t enough for someone to really accept me and love me for who I was. There was something inherently wrong with me, that once someone got close enough to me, they would see just how screwed up I was. My only worth was in providing value to my loved ones. So, I tried through my actions to garner love, to gain acceptance from outside of myself. Who knows, maybe on some level I knew that I could never be “perfect”, so this pattern kept me on this circle where I never had to face this coping mechanism I had developed. It allowed me to give my power away, to always look for that validation from outside of myself. Almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy – I’m not doing enough, I’m not enough – so that’s why no one gets me or loves me the way I want to be loved. That’s why “everyone” leaves me, not because of their own issues, but because I’m just jacked up.
I think the reason I didn’t notice the perfectionism bone for quite some time is because I had two categories of things in my life. Category #1) School and work – Even though I busted my butt to put myself through school and to do well at work, on some level excelling in those areas was a bit inherent for me. Category #2) Hobbies - Typically, if I wasn’t immediately good at something, I would just quit before I even started. Somehow, I had bought into this huge lie that people are just good at things right off the bat. I tried to mirror my strengths in all areas of my life and when I didn’t live up to my ginormous expectations, I would quit. And here we go, it worked perfectly to my advantage, it would just provide me further confirmation that I wasn’t “normal” or “ok” like everyone else was, because I had failed.
But alas, I was able to dig deep and realize (with the help of my awesome instructor), God did give me my stubbornness for a reason!!!!! And, this time I decided to use my stubbornness for good! I vowed that I was gonna push forward and keep trying, no matter how much it triggered the crap out of me. So, here I am, a little over a year later, getting ready to do open mic night soon. And I’ll share with you a little secret – I am terrified. I’m terrified I’ll suck, that I’ll completely blow it, that I’ll have tomatoes thrown at me, that people will heckle me, or perhaps worse, be completely indifferent to me. Can you tell I’m really good at catastrophizing things? 😊 But good news, my bestie and I figured out that tomatoes are too expensive for people to throw at me. And also, so what if I suck or people laugh at me or ignore me, I’m not gonna die or implode (I hope, I’ll confirm this later for you). So kids, what’s the moral of the story? I guess, sometimes in life, you just gotta do it, do the thing that scares you the most. Allow yourself to feel the emotions you're most terrified of (if even just for a moment), have the conversation that needs to be had, start the hobby you’ve been putting off, write that book, take dance lessons, tell that certain someone how you feel, do the thing that calls to your heart and soul – I’m not a doctor, but I'm almost certain you’ll survive it. This life is short, and it’s meant to be enjoyed, even in spite of yourself.