Being Brave

Well, it’s been a while since I last blogged, and I’m disappointed to admit that my yearly gratitude has stopped showing itself in weekly-blog form and I have a half-finished NYC post that now feels like it was started a lifetime ago.

However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not being grateful or smiley or not reliving my recent experiences fondly.

Since NYC, I’ve visited Barcelona, London, and had a few visits around the region. I’ve played a lot of gigs, I’ve sung a lot of songs, danced a lot of  dances, taught a lot of singing lessons and arranged a lot of choir pieces.

And recently, I’ve been pushing myself to be a bit braver.

A couple of weeks ago, I read this wonderful piece about a girl who learned to dance in a year. In it, she mentions a site called ‘Lift‘ which she said ‘made her accountable’; I looked at it and immediately signed up.

As a teacher, I’m interested in the way my pupils, and I, learn. I’m not as disciplined as I wish, but I am very into sets; collecting things, starting things and finishing them – IF I’m accountable (Which is why 2011’s gratitude worked, and 2013’s hasn’t… The first had a lot more followers). So Lift provides me with a visual goal that spurs me on to practise.

I picked ‘practise dance’ and ‘practise ukulele’ and I feel guilty if I don’t get to tick them off at the end of the day, so I’ve been improving.

At the same time as all this, I had my first instrumental lesson in years. A percussion teacher I work with wanted some singing-technique pointers, and I wanted to be more confident in playing percussion during gigs, so we did a swap.

I was TERRIFIED. Not only did I have to try a new skill in front of someone, and naturally fail somewhat, but I also had to teach a teacher – what if I was no good?!  Self-doubt and low confidence is always something that plagues me even now – and I don’t like doing things I’m not good at; I’d more likely never try or give up early on (another reason why Lift is useful; it makes me stick at things).

But it went well – I was reassured that I am a good teacher (phew! I had my suspicions that I was, but it doesn’t stop those doubt demons questioning, does it?) and I now had someone to be accountable to if/when I didn’t play percussion in a song or 2 in my acoustic sets with Gav.

So, 4 days later, I headed to a gig with Gav, Shakey Eggs at the ready. I know it seems little, but I was really nervous – they may be small, but they’re loud, and I have less control over them than my Clicky Fingers or Stampy Feet; they’re not part of me.

I played them on 2 or 3 tunes (until my teacher arrived and I chickened out again) but for me it was a brave step, and I took it.

4 days later, I took another brave step; I took my Ukulele to a gig. And I played it! I played the only song I knew and had been practising for about 10 days. My fingers were shaking and the guys insisted on mic-ing it up so my mistakes could be heard, but I kept going. I sang, I played, and I almost remembered the ending.

I know these may seem like little things to be pleased about, or to be writing about, but I felt it was important to take the moment and acknowledge the steps I made last week; just because I’m in my late 20s and supposedly an adult doesn’t mean I have stopped developing and improving, and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t have all the same crippling self-doubt issues that I did in my teens  that I need to work on.

So perhaps you’ll read this and think ‘what a waste of time that was’ or ‘Tessa’s annoying, isn’t she?’ Or maybe you’ll take a minute or two to think about how you’ve been brave recently, or achieved something that was tricky for you to do but that went unacknowledged (either by yourself or by others) and you’ll give yourself a pat on the back or a little congratulatory smile.

Because you deserve it; you did well! 🙂

Tessa x

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