A year ago, I completely changed my life. This year has somehow managed to be the happiest, most relaxing, tumultuous, and terrifying year of my adult life. If I had known how hard the changes were going to be, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to make them. I changed my life, and not in a shy way.
In becoming a writer, I lost a lot of self-confidence. Giving up something you’re good at, something you’ve rooted your identity and self-worth and self-confidence in, is incredibly difficult. Since grade school, I was a pianist. For nearly thirty years I actively improved my musical skills every day, and a whole lot of my confidence was built on that foundation of skill and knowledge and training. And fifteen years of teaching piano: I knew exactly what to do and exactly how to teach certain things. It makes one feel good, to do something well, day after day.
Leaving all that was HARD, and I was totally unprepared for what a drastic blow it would be to my self-esteem.
I’m in a good place now, so I can admit that there were periods in this last year when I was depressed and felt like a complete failure and utterly worthless. I was terrified. I felt like I was drowning, like I was trying grab the buoy of music and teaching that had once been my confidence, but I’d thrown it away.
And there was nothing there.
Oh yes, I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I was freaked.
Becoming a Writer
Part of me will always be a musician. I miss it. When I watch my music friends in their careers, my fingers itch to get at the piano. I mourn it often, and it’s still a sore spot that aches, even though I am certain that writing is where my heart truly is.
With writing, I never have to manufacture motivation. Whether I’m motivated or not, I find myself writing. It just happens. I don’t want a life; I never want to “escape” writing or even take a break, unless it’s to go to a movie. Even then, try to get me to a matinee—it won’t happen. I can’t go to a movie until I’ve written.
I love volunteering and hiking the desert once a week, but as much as I love it, I have to “force” myself away from writing. In theory, I want to travel and I want to explore Arizona more, but in reality, I can’t bear to give up the writing days.
Even when I swear-to-God really don’t want to write, I don’t want to do anything else.
Up until this last year, I had an absolute, no-idea-where-it-came-from confidence in the fact that I “should” write, that the “universe wants me to write.” This certainty did not come from any belief in my writing abilities; it was just there. And I am not given to faith; I’m really not. But there it was.
That confidence was shaken and tried this year.
(Yay! I finally get to join the club!)
I knew, going into this writing thing, that I wanted to be a very good writer. And I’ve seen what it takes for musicians to be very good musicians. I put zero stock in talent, so I’ve never wondered if I had writing talent. I do, however, know how to learn. I know how to make a living in the arts. I know how to become good at something, and I particularly know how to become good at something creative.
Line up all the best musicians, and I bet not one of them ever had a fall-back career. I knew if I gave myself the luxury of one, I’d never be as good as I want to be. Believe it or not, I’m a security freak, and if I gave myself the option, I’d get comfortable.
I maneuvered myself into the position of having nothing to fall back on; I do realize that. And for me, it was the right decision.
But damn, it was frightening as hell.
It Was a Very Good Year
Yes. Yes, it was. It doesn’t sound it so far, does it? In spite of it all, I wouldn’t change a thing. I don’t regret my regrets for a second.
And now look, I’ve written a whole blog post and I haven’t even gotten to the good bits! And there were more good bits than scary bits, I promise. So I suppose I’m going to have to finish this up in a day or two… after I finish my writing.
Ever have regrets? Or regrets you don’t regret? Ever choose one thing above another, and mourn the loss of it, even while you know you’d make the exact same decision a thousand times over?