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.
View this montage created at One True Media
Batman Extreme


~ by lastcrazyhorn on April 25, 2008.

13 Responses to “Congratulations. You Still Suck.”

  1. Of course, reality would seem to dictate that when you are a music therapist, you will have a position that puts you in authority, not in front of a bunch of unknown people, that you will have met your client before, that you will be designing a program FOR that client, not just performing some blank number. It may have been a test so you see how you respond–but I can’t imagine that this will match any reality you’ll have as therapist. Learn what you need to–*chuckles* and indeed many things suck– and then move on.

  2. The valuable thing may be that you know firsthand how miserable it is to be paralyzed by stage fright. This knowledge may be useful to you as a therapist.

  3. Awww, poop, if that doesn’t suck. I remember in grad school when my advisor told me my thesis needed to be re-written, and it just broke my heart. I’m not sure if it really did or if he was just hazing me, but it was tough. I took it very, very personally.

    That all being said, both you and awalkabout are right – it isn’t “reality,” because you won’t be performing on a stage, and you’re NOT on American Idol, and your therapy-ees will adore you, and it will all be good.

    Hope your weekend is better than the week has been!

  4. Yeah . . . you all are talking logic . . . I guess it’s like I said. Last night just served to bring all those memories back full forth. And the thing is this – I can play my french horn by myself in front of a crowd and be okay. I mean, I get nervous, but I make through.


  5. It is amazing how one stupid, insensitive comment can dredge up so much CRAP, no? But you DON’T suck! In case you were wondering…. 😉 Of course, you’ll never forget this guy either, but hopefully somewhere down the line you’ll see a clear path from that moment to another one that’s far better.

  6. Yeah. And here’s the thing, I still like this guy as a prof. I still want to make him proud. I still want to show him what I can do.

    But his people skills are a bit lacking sometimes . . . *pokes him with sharp stick* POKEY!!!

  7. You don’t suck. He sucks for saying that to you in such an insensitive way. I struggle with stage fright and large groups of people too. You definitely DO NOT suck! You have unique talents, skills and experience, which make you very valuable.

  8. Thanks. *scuffs shoe on ground*

  9. Awww, that whole situation does indeed suck. But you don’t!
    It reminds me of my daughter’s first dance class. She’s obsessed with dancing so we thought it would be a great idea…well talk about sensory overload: Their first recital was a halloween show, so she was all dressed up in a witch costume, with a big floppy hat, a broom to carry, and a routine to remember, and the thing was done in black light! Against a mirrored wall so it all reflected back. Totally dark and everything glowing! And then she gets out on stage to the chatter of a crowd, and the music starting…she just froze while all the other kids danced around her. But you know what, I was so proud of her for just walking out on that stage in the first place because of all the things she had to do to get herself to that point. And from all I’ve read here, you have a lot to be proud of too. Not everyone is cut out to be a bar musician…and that’s probably a good thing! I know bar-performance skills are not something I look for in a music therapist!

  10. I believe in you absolutely. You have overcome bigger challenges than this, and you can overcome this one too. Besides, who does music therapy in a bar, for heaven’s sake?

  11. Being in front of a group of people is the #1 fear in the US – even more than dying! Just the fact that you got up there at all proves the you do not suck.
    You’re going to be an awesome therapist.

  12. I wouldn’t worry. Most people are afraid of public speeches/performances. I’m in a typical Business Senior class and to pass the course we had to present. I don’t mind because I can just kinda go into my own little world while I talk, but some of the people I know in the class were downright terrified. Many of them tripped over their words many times. Its quite normal to mess up when on stage/presenting.
    As someone who taught a class you’re “did I fail?” may have been a little annoying to your professor. Professors are not human grade books and often judge the class as a whole, to see where progress puts them…especially in a performance situation. Even if your professor isn’t aware of your disabilities/differences he’s been your prof all semester and he’s probably taking that into consideration. He said that you weren’t failing the class and asking him more questions might have put him on edge.

  13. Hmm, sometimes authority goes to people’s heads. Sees him/herself as The Gatekeeper — sort of like God, but more important. Sometimes people seem to add in all sorts of irrelevant requirements because it fits with an image in their heads of what “kind” of person they think is best. (As opposed to someone who’s got the skills, but doesn’t fit the irrelevant image.)

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