In doing thought work around finding my life’s one true purpose or guiding principle, I actually combined a couple of things.
First I did an exercise by Warren Buffet which included writing out 25 career goals, doing some soul searching to pick the top 5 most important, and finally erasing the other 20 because they took away focus from the 5.
The next step I did was Angela Duckworth’s addition to Warren Buffet’s exercise, which was to what extent do these things have in common.
They each were interconnected with each other, and all roads I believe led back to leadership and advocacy for me, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.
I’m here to talk about one specific goal: being the best at playing violin/viola.
I dug a little deeper, asking myself “why?” on repeat like a toddler.
Why do I want to be the best violinist/violist?
So I can teach it better, be sought out for gigs, and so people would take me more seriously.
“So people would take me more seriously.”
This one stung, so I asked myself “Why is that important to me?”
“Because I want to erase my sins of the past. So I can stop being that example of what not to do when professors and conductors talk about me, so I can stop blaming others for my choices, so that I can feel like I belong.”
Ouch. I had to start addressing these things like I’m my own therapist.
It led down the rabbit hole farther until I came to the following conclusion.
I place value on being the best at violin so as to erase all doubt of my ability, and the metric I measure it by is being so good it erases my mistakes and atones for hurting other people and myself with past behavior.
But it goes deeper.
My worthiness to play my instrument is based on how others perceive me. My self-worth is deeply rooted into what people think of my playing ability, especially those who have seen me at my worst.
The result of getting to this realization was that feeling of every lesson I walked into unprepared, every performance that I half assed practiced for, every glare I got from a conductor or my peers in college, every time I became more and more afraid to open my case and thus because more and more afraid of playing in front of people.
That tension in my neck, that lump in my throat, that tightness in my chest, clenching of the jaw, and a dread that goes deep down into my stomach hit me like a bus.
That desire to want to curl up and disappear.
I shed no tears, but I got a little misty.
I immediately remembered my embodied resources and breathing techniques to create space in my body and realize this is a survival response to all that grief and shame I held onto all this time in my body.
I didn’t think that my experience growing up learning to play my instrument would trigger a full on trauma response, but it did.
It’s a whole new world when you become aware of what you did and who you had to be to survive it.
As much as it sucked to go this deep, face that demon, and feel those feelings, it oddly felt freeing.
And it also will give me the opportunity to heal, and play, and get better for myself.
To let go and finally be intrinsically motivated to love my music, and my instrument. (Hopefully)
I hope that writing about this experience is helpful to you with something you are passionate about, but you basically got wrecked by your lates teens early 20’s or even if you are going through it now.
Definitely share it with someone you know who may be going through the same thing.
Until next time.