I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

A progression to a jaw-dropping realization (from my personal hand-written journal):

September 2nd, 2011:
It’s amazing how quickly life can change.  I feel so lost and directionless now.  I won’t have a master’s degree.  Nothing to set me apart.  I feel like I nearly reached something that could prove my worth, but I fell short again.  I don’t want to see this as a failure.  I don’t want to have failed again.  What can possibly be the purpose of my life?  It seems impossible that there is one now, but surely there must be.

This peppermint tea is calming.  I’ve been angry today, at everyone and everything.  I think at one time, I was a little girl who had potential to be a great musician, but the talent fell into hands that just didn’t or couldn’t develop it properly.  I had the possibility in me.  Maybe I still do.  But there isn’t time to find it, now that it’s time for adult responsibilities.  My practice time just ran out.

From here on out, I’m going to be happy.  My life is going to be quiet and simple and I will go to sleep every night content in my life.  I will learn that my accomplishments and degrees are not what make me worthy of love and happiness.  I am not worth any more or any less without the fancy degree from the prestigious music school.

Yes, maybe I have become as good as I will ever be at the bassoon.  Maybe I’ve performed my last recital, bowed for the last time, and my facility will slowly wain with time.  But I will never forget how to play.  My fingers will always mold easily to my instrument and I will easily find the notes.  I will never forget a single fingering.  My instrument is forever forged into my being and will always be a part of me.

But I have to believe that with the end of one chapter, another begins.  Perhaps my desire to find and prove myself through my instrument kept me from a truer path.  In truth, bassoon has always been a desperate attempt to push away the worthlessness and unworthiness I was sure would overtake me if I stopped playing.  As long as I was good at playing, I was good at something, and as long as I was good at something, I was worthy of love and friendship and happiness.  Playing bassoon essentially kept me from being worthless.  But now I’m giving it up.  I’m laying it down.  In place of the worry and fear and self-doubt, I’m going to allow myself to become what I’m meant to become.  I’m hoping that if I let down the guard that playing has allowed me to put up, I’ll find my way into something really fulfilling.

I’m starting to think that all of this is happening so I learn to love myself just for being.  No masters degree, no big name school, no website or CD.  Just me.  I have nothing to hide behind anymore.  I’m just me, now.  I think the world will accept me much easier than I will.  I have to learn to love myself as I am.  Only then can I fulfill my place in this world.  It’s time to let go of everything I’ve been hiding behind that makes me “special.”  I don’t need anything else.  It’s time to finally, finally let go.

February 12, 2012:

In the last few months, I’ve been through some very difficult stuff.  Having to leave my grad school program and the city I loved so much too a great toll on my heart, greater than I realized, and I think I fell into a depression deeper than I’ve ever experienced.  I completely lost touch with who I am.  I didn’t read, I didn’t socialize, I didn’t do anything.  I became a shell of who I was.  I didn’t even notice it happen.

But now, with a little space from it all, I realize what a blessing in disguise that horrific time in my life was.  Back in September, when I tearfully packed up my life in Bloomington, IN and moved back to Atlanta, away from my apartment that I adored and into my mother’s guest room, I wasn’t sure I’d live through the pain.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to.  I experienced a death of a dream, the dying of the goal I’d been working towards since I was eleven years old.  At 27, I had come face to face with the reality that I cannot become what I had always hoped to be.  I would never be a major orchestral musician or college bassoon professor.  But now, with the past months between me and that sudden shock and news, I see how it was a blessing. 

I have always struggled with untangling what I do from who I am.  I have always believed, down in my very core, that I am not enough, that I am worthless.  Being a musician kept people from seeing that, in my mind.  If I practiced harder, studied harder, performed better, placed higher in auditions, it was creating padding from people seeing who I really was.  It was a horribly difficult guard to keep up, especially in the music world, because nothing is ever good enough– you can always do better. 

But now, I’m working as a file clerk in a large law firm in midtown Atlanta.  I’m at the bottom of the ladder of importance.  I am the least paid part-time employee in the firm.  But I am becoming HAPPY.  I have been forced to let go of the core belief that I am more than what I do.  If I based my entire worth as a human being on being someone who files other people’s papers, who would I be?  But people still like me, they enjoy my company, they complement me on doing my job well.  And what’s more important, I like them, I enjoy their company as well, and I enjoy doing my job well because it comes naturally to me and I feel equipped to do it to the best of my ability.  There is a distinct end to a job you can do filing.  You can label everything correctly, put it in the right place, and leave at the end of the day.  I’ve never experienced a completed job before.  It’s so different from what I’m used to.  If I had not been forced to leave school, I would never have taken this “filler” job, though I thought it was temporary, and I would not know this feeling was possible for me.

June 3, 2012:

I just had the realization that if I decide to go to law school, it wouldn’t be because I feel like I need to prove something to myself or anyone else, it wouldn’t be a facade to keep people from seeing what or who I really, that I’m or stupid or worthless.  It would be because I genuinely WANT to– because I enjoy this and I’m naturally good at it and it’s not a cover-up for anything else.  It’s just me following the path that I’ve let unfold when I gave up trying to force my life to go in the direction I thought it should go.  Once I quit hiding behind what I thought I should be, I think I’ve started to find who I really am.  It’s all a process, of course, but it’s just coming naturally and I’m just riding the waves.   It’s effortless.  I’m working hard, very hard in fact, but there is no feeling of fighting to stay one step ahead so nobody finds out I’m faulty or incapable.  I’m not hiding anything.  For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am truly being myself.

Stop paddling against the current and perhaps it will take you where you’re actually meant to be.  And your arms won’t be near so tired.  Less effort, more peace, more product.  Who knew.

Something I think I should do and someone think I should be vs. what I genuinely want to do and who I really am– I never understood the difference between the two, even that there WAS a difference, and it feels absolutely, incredibly freeing. 

Giving up the “should” to find the “want.”  Maybe not even “want.”  Just “be.” Just be. So simple.  I’m genuinely blown away.

 And that’s where I am.  I may look slightly mentally compromised, wiping tears sitting here in Starbucks, but I don’t care.  Rereading what I wrote all those months ago– I did what I intended to do.  I didn’t even realize it.  I didn’t see it happening.  But it did.

I have not been this truly excited about my life, since, well, ever.


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