Congratulations. You Still Suck.
You know, just in case this was something you were in danger of forgetting.
“It’s a reality check,” the man said.
Well guess what. I don’t need a reality check. I get a reality check every time I walk down the damn street. I get a reality check every time I say hi to someone and they answer back by turning away from me. I get a reality check every time I open my damn mouth.
<Insert foot here> — I should really get this as a tattoo.
I get a reality check every time I go to one particular class. I get a reality check every time I talk too long. I get a reality check every time someone tells me upfront that they don’t believe I can do it. I get a reality check every time I find myself in a conversation with someone who thinks I’m a freak for talking to them. I get a reality check every time I leave my room.
No, I didn’t need another reality check.
Last night, we had to play at a bar’s open mic night. When I say “we,” I’m referring to my practicum class. That class has been a source of consternation for me all year, because there are too many people in that room, and about half of the time, it sends me into sensory overload just being in class for an hour. Whoever sits next to me knows to pass me a piece of paper and tell me to start drawing if they see me start to rock crazily or I stop talking.
The requirements for the open mic night were for us to play an instrument (i.e. – guitar, autoharp or piano) and sing a song–all by memory, in addition to having good rhythm, pitch, yada yada yada. I’ve been practicing this music for 2 weeks. I had planned to do Cat Steven’s “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” on the piano. I was ready to go. That afternoon I had sung the song through at least 15 times. I knew it. I had it.
I get up to play, and my fingers just start shaking and my brain starts melting. There were at least 20, and more like 30 (at least), people in that crowd. Among the scattering of loud, noisy strangers, sits half my class (the other half went the week before).
I restarted the song twice and made it all the way to the bridge before my brain collapsed. I couldn’t remember the words, or the chords, and suddenly it seemed to me as though I had never seen the keyboard before. It was as if I was sitting in front of an alien instrument with a configuration that I had never seen before.
So I announced to the crowd that I would see if I couldn’t go on later in the evening and I jumped off the stage. Oh, did I mention that this is a 3rd of my grade???
I go back to talk to the professor and ask him if I can sing later in the line up. He says “no, that was it.” And I ask him (slightly hysterically) if he’s going to fail me. He says no. I say, does this mean I can’t be a music therapist? He says it means that this was a reality check.
So I don’t hit him. Or cuss him. Or flip him off.
Even though I really wanted to.
I just walk out of the place, out of the noise, out from the people, out onto the street, and I just walk to the end of the block, sit down at the edge of a building around the corner, and cry.
Before long, two friends join me. And then later, two more. We sit and we talk and I cry. As they pointed out, when as a music therapist am I going to need to be able to sit in a bar and play for a crowd?
But all that keeps running through my head is this:
This is a reality check to confirm that yes, you still suck.
I got my undergrad in instrumental music ed. I wanted to be a band director. I wanted to that, right up until the semester that I had to student teach. And then I changed my mind. Standing in front of a big crowd (of any population) terrifies me. My brain walks off and my body stops working, and soon I’m like a hollow shell of myself. And being up there last night just brought all of the student teaching experience back into my head full force.
So yes. I still suck.
And that on top of all the other crap I’ve had to put up with this semester was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
BTW, you should check this out. I used a tool to make it, but other than that, it’s all me. Something I think you’ll figure out, soon enough.