I had this annoying train of thought during my first day at this guitar festival in Spain. “I’m done! I don’t like guitar!” and then I walked into a huge room with more than 100 people gathering round. My head began to spin, “How are there this many people that like the same thing?? Arg! There’s gotta be more to life than this! It’s all inbreeding!” I literally was having an existential guitar crisis! These are not fabricated thoughts made for this blog post. This is real. I questioned why the heck in the world would someone want to dedicate themselves to a box with 6 strings for the rest of their life, especially when they can’t even play with orchestras! I come to a guitar festival and that’s what I’m feeling?? That was DAMN intense. Fiel, you’re a dramaqueen. Why maybe… Or is it because I’m the only person you know that would say these things outloud? Considering the last post was about understanding my guitar world a bit more, this past week I’ve learned indefinitely that you can’t trust feelings, feelings aren’t constant.
It’s not about winning, it’s about learning.
Even though I’ve been playing guitar for years, I’ve never entered a competition because I simply wasn’t up to the task. I was talking to one of my good friends Eduardo one day and he told me, “Why don’t you try this one guitar festival in Spain?” Then I found out their competition was free and I signed up without asking questions. I knew for a fact I wasn’t going to even pass into the semi-finals because of a lack of practice and simply not being at that level of playing (yet). Ironically, I have many friends that are big time competition winners, and even more that participate in them on a regular basis. Every few months I hear about how so and so won this competition, and here I was having entered not even one! Fast forward to Monday, July 11th. My set was really late, and when you have a performance of any sort, it’s usually not a day to be constantly practicing. You can’t exactly fix very much, but rather do your best to maintain what you’ve got. And to be honest I’m not a competitive guy, but of course winning is always great! Intense pressure allows you to see how much you can handle and what you’re made of. Truth is, no one wins on the first try. Becoming a world class ANYTHING is a fermentation process. Fall plenty, learn plenty.
When it’s a performance day, you don’t have a desire to do much. You have to spend the whole day getting in the zone. Anything overly memorable throughout the day can pester your thoughts while performing. Minutes take longer than 60 seconds, and with so many hours of waiting before my turn I began to get restless. Then came friendly second thoughts. “Why am I doing this, I’m not even THAT good! This is crazy!” These thoughts aren’t farfetched. Feelings come and go.
You do your best to rationalize that because it was free it was worth it and that the experience that will calm your psychology for future events is priceless. Nonetheless, you still feel like a bimbo for wanting to embarrass yourself in front of a group of judges who happen to be world-class guitarists. Before my turn, I warmed up as we all do and unlike usual, I began to get nervous. I learned that shaking off your nerves means constantly performing, but when you do something new, i.e. a competition all bets are off and you can’t help but! My hands began shaking as I was getting closer and closer to new territory. The nerves in my arms go off as they do when I get stressed. I just wanted to get it over with. I felt like I didn’t want to have anything to do with guitar for the rest of the week. Finally the door opened, and I walked out on stage. I sat down, and made music. Random thoughts from conversations throughout the day flashed in my head but I kept my cool. Before I knew it, after a painful memory slip or two, it was over. As I crept back into the real world, I realized that I did it. I succeeded, and gave the best that I could. Mission accomplished.
Words from the Mother:
Something my Mom used to always say to me was very contrary to most of today’s culture.
“Don’t listen to your heart and feelings. It’s not about happiness. Happiness is temporary but joy is forever.”
Definitely contrary to popular belief, but sit and let that sink in for a sec. What I’ve learned in the past year is that with nearly everything in life, give it a day or two and see how you feel. If you’re in hot water, let it cool, then you can taste the broth without burning your tongue.
Life Principles from feeling like a bimbo:
1. Wait and see how you feel later, your initial reactions are always worse.
2. It’s NOT as bad as you think.
3. You aren’t the first or only person to experience what you’re going through now.
4. Because the above 3 are true, it’s NOT the end of the world.
5. You can always learn, but only if you’re willing.
Here’s a retrospective analysis:
My initial reactions were but temporary. I played much better than I thought I would and had I not, there were no tomatoes for the audience to throw. Considering the guitar gained popularity in the 20th century, I am definitely not the only person to compete for experience. I decided to use this to observe the mentality of my friends, and prepare myself for whatever other future situations there might be. Whether it’s going to college for the first time, or if you have an upcoming event that just makes you paralyzed, it’s going to be ok. There have been many that have gone before you. There is nothing new under the sun. The only constant thing about feelings is that they always change.
My call to action for you is this: take a moment and reflect. Is there anything bothering you that you just can’t get over? Are you feeling anxious? Breathe. Talk with people. “Which one of you by worrying can add an hour to his life?” is one my most favorite Jesus quotes. Go through with it regardless of what it is, and see where it takes you. More often than not you will be amazed, surprised, and realized had you turned back… Up to you.