The earliest time I remember boldly expressing my passion for music was when I was four and a half. I wanted to learn to play the piano.
I was desperate. Insistent. And persistent.
I have no idea what else was going on in my four year old mind. Except, I couldn’t not play.
Apparently I worked hard enough to convince my second piano teacher to take me as a private lessons student despite being so young. Only five. My first teacher was leaving the state and getting married. How dare she!
My second teacher said she couldn’t not take me, because I could play all the scales and arpeggios. I don’t have any clear memory of playing for her. I just recall walking into a humongous, mansion-of-a-house and being told not to take off my shoes. I thought not going barefoot in such a beautiful place was too weird.
Four years after I started taking piano, I won my first statewide piano competition.
I’m sharing the win, not to brag, but to talk about one of the few early times where I was still innocent and oblivious to world expectations.
That win was a product of sharing my love for music and nothing more. I wasn’t trying to show off or be better than everyone else. I was just being me. Sharing a part of who I was.
A few short years later, I lost the innocence of playing just to share music. People had expectations of how I was supposed to play. That was a difficult burden to bear. And then the harshness of competition took over.
Performing music would be forever different. I often created new measures in pieces because I was so nervous and wasn’t certain I could find my way back to the piece. My heart thumped on overdrive mode. I often forgot what the piece was communicating or what it was about.
Competing messed with my pure love and passion for music.
Competing and winning can get ugly and mean.
But, life, where we’re encouraged to be ourselves and the best version (of ourselves) we can be, is beautiful.
My writing mentor has written and published 125 books. She brings so much — wisdom, understanding, sharpness, experience, talent — that guides, encourages, and helps me in my writing. I don’t feel threatened, because she’s trying to compete with me and beat me. Rather, she nudges me forward with what I’m doing well and challenges me to build, develop, and grow in areas that are lacking.
One of my longest-acquainted best friends lets me be me and I let her be her. We talk about everything, small and significant. Sometimes we brainstorm ideas for how to reach goals we’ve set for ourselves. But, we’re never in competition with each other. And, when we’ve gone through conflict in our relationship, we didn’t merely survive it but our friendship deepened.
And, many others in my life walk, support, and encourage each other.
Lily Chang © 2018
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, come on peeps.
Let’s join in community together. Encourage each other. Okay? We don’t need to punch each other’s lights out or bludgeon each other.
That’s so grade school. It didn’t do any good then. And, it’s not helping anyone, now.