Love Yourself

by - 6/13/2018

"What other people think about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. The trick is to not only deny the criticism any power over you, but, even more challenging, to not get caught up in the praise. There's nothing wrong with blushingly accepting a compliment, but if you find yourself always seeking outside approval that you're good enough or cool enough or talented enough or worthy enough, you're screwed. Because if you base your self-worth on what everyone else thinks of you, you hand all your power over to other people and become dependent on a source outside of yourself for validation. Then you wind up chasing after something you have no control over, and should that something suddenly place its focus somewhere else, or change its mind and decide you're no longer very interesting, you end up with a full-blown identity crisis."
-Jen Sincero, author of You Are a Badass

I've been reading You Are a Badass for the past few days and it's already hit me in the feels in about a zillion ways, but this quote especially stood out to me. I've always been told not to let people's criticism get to me, but the fact that others' praise can be problematic too? Mind. Blown.

Okay, maybe my mind isn't blown, but I just felt the truth of that statement in my own life. As I've already waxed on and on about on this blog, I play the piano. And I've kind of always been known as That Girl Who Plays the Piano, especially in high school. I was good at it, I didn't have to work very hard at it, and it was something I enjoyed doing.

Fast forward to college, when I decided to major in piano. I walked in there pretty confident that I was the best of the best (I mean, I'd been hearing it my whole life) only to find out that I most definitely... wasn't. Like Sincero says, I kind of had a "full-blown identity crisis". And while I do think it was somewhat good for me to get off my high horse about it, it was pretty shocking me to be placed in an environment where I was basically lowest on the totem pole.

I think I always let being the "piano girl" define me, but once I was grouped with collegiate musicians who, for the most part, were a lot better or more dedicated or more talented than me, I stopped believing I was good enough. I kind of didn't know who I was anymore.

There were a lot of other factors that went into that (if you've seen any of this news lately), and while I don't want to go into that in too much detail, let's just say that some of my professor's poor treatment of me (or rather, largely just ignoring me) definitely had an impact on my self-esteem about something I'd always been confident in. I spent those years chasing that validation that I was never going to get no matter how hard I tried, because these professors set impossible (and extremely hard to decipher) standards. And that kind of left me feeling empty for most of my college experience.

I've been reading through my journals from that time, and they are just filled with hate and anger toward the piano. I was so upset at it, I hated playing it, I didn't want to touch it. I only forced myself to because I had to for school. It was honestly so bad that after I left Logan, I hardly touched the piano for years, other than to play for church or accompany for my siblings. I'd gained a pretty deep-seated feeling that I wasn't good enough, that I was always going to mess up, that playing the piano was something I was just going to have to leave behind. 

Until I went to that symphony concert. And, okay, a lot of other things happened before that, like me having the lightbulb moment that I've let too many other people dictate what I'm going to do in my life, even when I didn't agree with them. And reading about all the allegations against the piano department and finally realizing where those feelings (at least about the piano) came from. Unfortunately, the department I was a part of had a pattern of tearing students down instead of building them up and teaching them how to succeed. I'm not the only one who felt this way, and it's honestly been heartbreaking to hear my fellow students' stories. But after a lot of self-examination, going to the symphony and listening to that breathtaking concerto was kind of the culminating event that made me realize just how much I really do love music. I mean, duh! But I'd forgotten it for far too long. And I finally saw that I was the only one letting other people's opinions change that.

I can't believe it has taken me this long to finally come to this realization, but I've finally decided it doesn't matter if anyone else thinks I'm good or not. That's the key. I have to believe it, and that is literally THE ONLY THING that matters. I have to love it, I have to play what and when I want to, and I get to dictate the joy I feel out of it.

It's been so freeing to decide that I love the piano for myself and for nobody else. The past month or so, I've been playing almost every day. I even learned a freaking Beethoven sonata for heavens sake! Who am I?! Even a few months ago, I couldn't have imagined this day. But I'm so, so happy that this is back in my life, and it's here to stay.

Not only that, but I'm learning to love myself and take care of myself in all aspects of my life, and it's been one of the best things I've ever done!

And PS... Reading You Are a Badass is definitely helping me solidify these feelings. I kind of let the title scare me for a while (swear words! Ah!) but it's been so good for me already. I highly recommend it. :)

Happy Wednesday.

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