Put quite simply, life happens. Things change, people grow up, and life moves on whether you are ready for it or not. And the great thing is, even though I don’t have any clue what my life is going to be like or what tomorrow brings, I have to keep reminding myself that that is okay.
It’s crucial to set goals, have some blueprint of a plan and ambition so that you aren’t wasting time and going forth into life bravely but blindly. Planning ahead will pay off, I promise – but the one thing I need to change is rigidity.
In my most recent post
(that is not so recent anymore, I’m sorry!!!) I discussed in brief my current relationship with music and piano in particular. I had plenty of great ambitions and a solid timeline that I wanted to meet. But most of all, like many narcissistic beings, I wanted something to show my worth. I needed something that would validate all of my hard work – something physical, something tangible, something that screamed “You did it and you rock”.
In piano and some other instruments, that gold standard came with an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music diploma. Since I began taking exams at the age of 9, I was dead set on one day walking across the stage in the purple regalia to get that diploma. At that point I was also set on spending the rest of my life doing music. Music was something I loved, and I wanted nothing more than to teach for the rest of my life.
Life changed, things happened, and I began to see that something was not quite right. I loved music and still do, don’t get me wrong. But other things began to crop up that weren’t really playing to my favour. After an incredibly awful experience at a festival, I sat back from it weeks later and thought about it. I thought about it a lot.
We can all assume that after that experience, it didn’t make piano attractive for me at all. And I know, we all fall down sometimes and we have accept the failures before we can move onto the triumphs. But in other aspects of life, I got the failure part and I worked hard to make sure that those failures didn’t repeat themselves. With piano, I stopped. I felt like I was hitting a brick wall and I didn’t know what I wanted anymore.
It wasn’t until very recently that I radically changed the course of my path, with a story too technical and long to go in depth here. It hurt so much to step back and humbly accept the fact that what I had been telling people – the goal that I had advertised for years – had to be revised. I felt like I let so many people down, including myself, and that I couldn’t go out into the world with the confidence that I once had. Because if this is what happens with something that was such an integral part of my life, what’s going to happen when I don’t find myself behind the news desk?
This aspect of humility was something that my parents told me time and time again when I was fighting to figure out what I wanted to do with my relationship with piano. And of course, parents are ALWAYS right. But today the truth that my parents had told me all along was brought to me in a different way, and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There was a guy that I knew that made his mind up about a lot of things, and his measure of success was dependent on achieving certain “checkpoints”. For him, his gold standard was medical school. He worked tirelessly all throughout high school to get high grades, and for a while, that was all he focused on. He was a bit cocky about things too, telling his ambition to everyone and looking down on other people and what he presumed to be “lesser achievements”.
Today, however, I saw a different side of him, admittedly the first time that I ever felt sympathy towards him. He confided in me the trouble he was having: his classes were mentally and physically draining, he wasn’t pulling the marks he wanted, he was having trouble sleeping and he even cried to his parents about it. He then said with some uncharacteristic resignation that he might just scrap med school altogether. And despite the bias that I had held about this guy for the longest time, for once in my life, I felt sad for him. I felt sympathetic, and on some weird level, I related to him. His struggle was my struggle, and suddenly the universe shifted.
Like at mentioned at the outset, goals are important to guide your focus and give you motivation. But just the way that trips sometimes go awry and performances bring up surprises, you need to learn to go with it and improvise: don’t throw your whole plan out the window and start again from square one, but also remember to never be afraid to fail and make a change.
This is a lifelong concept that I know that I will struggle to contend with when something else crops up in the future. Our plans are not ours alone – they’re His.