GRANDMA: You’re sister’s still seeing that boy, right? How about you?
[Translation: You still don’t have a boyfriend?]
ME: Uh, I’m not really seeing anyone…
[BRAIN: I mean, being a feminist and a workaholic tends to filter out a large fraction of the population I could theoretically procreate with.]
GRANDMA: Don’t worry about the rest of them, don’t worry about what your parents or sister say. Keep doing what you need to do to be successful.
[Translation: Keep doing you.]
ME: Thanks, Grandma.
[BRAIN: Translation Grandma, you speak paraphrased words of wisdom. I dig it. Though technically speaking, it would be nice to do someone else.
…But yeah, okay. I’ll keep doing me.]
“Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom…”
- Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, “The Concept of Anxiety”
I was bathed in a strange, intoxicating cocktail of emotions. Vacillating between excitement and dread, I wasn’t sleeping well (somewhat typical for me before a big performance). When I saw my friends, I asked them, “What if a critic tears my career apart before it, like, ACTUALLY begins?” Whatever their comforting answers were, I was too worried to absorb them. It’s unexpectedly paralyzing to see the things you’ve dreamed of – a solo performance alongside the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a The New York Times review by Zachary Woolfe - get unstoppably closer and closer.
I did what I could to feel more centered. I took an Alexander Technique lesson. I practiced (duh), though I couldn’t stop ruminating on a shift or phrase when I was physically away from my violin. I sometimes played Stitch – what a former classmate dubbed my “birthdaycaster,” the gorgeous baby blue electric guitar I’d been sleeping next to every night since I picked it up on the 18th. (It was a real exercise in self-control to stop playing before my fingertips became sore.) When I could give myself a longer break - a factor of free time and Kleenex availability - I’d watch Lilo & Stitch. (I mean, I do love Truffaut and the Nouvelle Vague and all, but that movie makes me weep. Kinda like how Mozart will always feel like home but Panic! At The Disco makes my body convulse in an approximation of dance moves.)
All this helped, nominally. I still felt like I was on a train shuttling too rapidly towards a mountain I’d been preparing to climb for years, deliberately seated facing the opposite direction.
Looking backwards as I hurtled forwards, I started to recall memories and conflicting feelings towards professional success. I vividly remembered sitting at the very back - [3/7] »
Obligatory plug: For a marathon mix tape (available until this Monday, actually), email firstname.lastname@example.org.