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September 9, 2013


Running Backwards Down Uneven Stairs While Blindfolded

I hope your stairs don't look like this.

Please don’t actually run down stairs backwards, or while blindfolded. Or both. And always use a handrail.

There are few things that feel worse than entering confidently entering a situation, only to immediately encounter miserable failure. Massive, unadulterated, beautiful failure. Failure that decides it should take up residence on your shoulders and maybe invite over its close friends, Shame and Frustration, so it can have a cocktail party to commemorate your blatant lack of accomplishments. Congratulations on your deficiency of success!

At the end of last semester, I decided that I was going to pursue a music performance minor because I’ve been playing music for so long that it almost seemed like a waste of time not to. So when I signed up for my fall classes, I signed up for what would be my first ever opportunity to study music in an academic setting. How bad could it be, really? Ten years of hands-on experience should be much more than necessary to succeed in a music class, right? If I can survive a philosophy class, I can survive just about anything. Nothing in the world can bring me down! Right? Right?

No. Not right. Wrong. Wrong everywhere. An astronomical explosion of absolutely incorrect. On my very first day of class, I walked into the Fuller Music Center, prepared for an invigorating 75 minutes of Studying Music (but what does that even mean?!). Confidently, I sat down, pulled out a pencil and a notebook, situated my coffee, sneakily checked my lipstick in the reflection of my phone (worn for an extra boost of confidence), and smiled, feeling as if, although I knew absolutely nothing about what this class would demand of me, my ten years of music-playing experience had my back.

And then the professor walked in the room, passed out a syllabus, and began to speak, and I immediately felt as if an enormous leech had attached itself to my face and sucked out any good feelings I ever had in my entire life. I’m a little bit ashamed to say that I may have blinked back a tear or two. I wasn’t even ten minutes into the class, and I already felt overwhelmed. I came into the class feeling confident and prepared, and I left the class feeling stupid, cocky, and like a total failure.

Some people cope with things better than others. In this situation, there are people out there who would leave the class, acknowledge the challenge, and hit the books right away in order to rise to the challenge. I am not one of those people. I need time to complain about a difficult situation before I can find a way to tackle it. That’s just how I function. I complained for about a week and a half. I floundered. I whined. I cried once. I threw a pile of scores onto the floor.

When I called my mom today, and she asked how my music class was going, I told her that it was exactly like running backwards down uneven stairs while blindfolded. Terrifying and painful. But you know what’s cool about stairs? They aren’t infinite. There is an end to the uneven stairs. And when you finally, finally hit the bottom, you can rip the blindfold off, pick yourself up, and pathetically crawl your way back to the top. You may fall on the way up, because, you know, the stairs are uneven. But you’ll get there.

I may be up to my eyeballs in scores, and I may never be able to understand what a gregorian chant is, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to tell you what a church mode is, but I’ll survive. Eventually, I’ll be able to shake off Failure and his sick cocktail party, but that’s a long time coming. First, I need to wallow in my failure, and then figure out how to keep my head above water, and make a mental note to keep my ego in check for the future. I’m taking this entire situation as a learning experience, even if it means running backwards down uneven stairs while blindfolded.

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  1. Rian Watt
    Sep 9 2013

    Are you in Joel Helander’s class? If so, that’s so great!

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