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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reset Button Anyone?

I don't feel like I earned my degree.

There. I said it. They always say "the truth will set you free". To be honest, I don't feel much better letting it out, but regardless, there it is.

I started school just wanting to play music because I thought that was all I could do. My professor pushed me to pursue performance, providing me with the logical reasons why, but really, I just think he believed I could do it.

I realize that much too late.

The first two years featured Angelica attempting to muddle through college life and practice. Constantly. I made challenges for myself and I felt determined to chase after them. But somewhere in the middle of that, something changed in me. I don't know what caused it...I just know that during sophomore year I began to care more about the opinions of others and less about my true opinion of myself.

Junior year, I took private conducting lessons. To be honest, I stunk at it. I know I could have done much better if I wasn't afraid of looking silly or being made fun of for facial expressions. I knew what had to be done, and if I could go back now, I would give it my all and to heck with what everyone else thinks!

I had to work even harder in my lessons to achieve the level of success that was required of me. I know it was then that I started becoming a terror. A seed of discontentment rooted itself deep in my core as I listened to every critique my professor brought to my attention and translated it as "you aren't good enough", "you can't do this", "you won't succeed", "why can't you do this right".

I kept fighting my inner self, trying so hard to refocus my mind away from caring about what other people thought and get myself back to caring about my development as a musician.

But you know what?

I failed. Miserably. I cared so much about the opinion of others that it drove me mad. I was a terror and downright bratty more times than I would like to admit. I was always angry and emotional and said so many things in a tone that I regret tenfold. All I wanted was to make others proud of me...to make my professor proud of me...that I lost sight of who I was and how I truly played.

This is what failure feels like. Not messing up a note or forgetting a passage or even missing an hour of practice. Failure is committing yourself body, soul, and spirit to the wrong thing so violently that you cannot free yourself. At least, it was for me.

I listen to pieces I played in orchestra or lessons and amidst the nostalgia are remnants of agony. I can still see my professor bouncing on the podium as he led us through the musicals and giving us musical cues simply by the look in his eyes. I wanted to be like him, but I was afraid of what I would look like trying.

I listen to my senior recital and I can't help but think that I could have walked onto that stage far more confident if I wasn't so hellbent on hearing my professor say "I am so proud of you". Sure, I can hear the growth and improvement from my freshman year performances, but it was no where near where I thought a senior performance major should be and it killed me.

My professor is one of the most amazing and patient men I have ever met. I would have thrown the towel in and stormed out of my office if I had to teach a student like me. He gave me a stern talking to now and then, but he never stopped believing in me. He pushed me so hard to be the musician he knew I could be and I will be forever grateful for it. In my anger, I saw that as nitpicking; trying to prove that I couldn't be as good as I hoped to be. Now I know what a lie that was.

After graduating, I took a sickeningly long hiatus from my violin because there was so much pain and sadness rooted in it. Instead of practicing for twelve hours a week, I often cried for twelve hours. I knew what I wanted and I knew what needed to be done in myself, but I couldn't figure out how to get there.

I know life doesn't have a reset button, even though we often wish it would. I know that I will always regret the attitude I carried through college, even though I know it will help me grow as a person later. While those four years were some of the best I've had in my short life, they bring tears of sadness to my eyes because I know I missed and messed up a lot of opportunities because I wanted something so bad I was scared of it.

I love music. I love the violin. I love playing. I love to learn new pieces and I love the feeling you get after mastering a hard passage. I love performing in the pit with actors above me. I love sitting on that orchestra stage and making music with other people. I love standing alone, and singing out with my strings. I love the sound of applause.

I love performing.

I was so convinced all through college that I hated it, and I didn't know why I was a performance major. I think it was really that I hated the pressure of performing because letting people down and knowing I disappointed them was my biggest fear. And in the process of attempting to avoid it, I brought it down on myself completely.

If I could go back to IWU and study music again with my professor, I would do so in a heartbeat. I would love a second chance to conduct, play, and perform. If IWU offered a master of music degree, I would be one of the first to sign up, no matter the sacrifices I would have to make. No, I still don't want to be a world-famous concert soloist and travel the world playing concerto after concerto. I simply want to be the best violinist I can be and accomplish amazing things with my music. You may think it would be a waste of time to go to grad school for music when I don't intend to use it in seeking a job.

It would be my second chance.