Persistence: It Pays Off

Posted: March 27, 2011 in anxiety, disappointment

For the past year or so, I’ve been focused on getting back into something I gave up on a long time ago: joining a band and writing, singing, and performing music again. I started my first band at 14 with every intention of becoming a rock star: I gave up on it when I realized my anxiety was simply too severe to enable me to perform in front of people. After I was raped at 17, I gave up on even trying to be actively social, and retreated into my own little world filled with unhealthy relationships (usually with significantly older men) and lots of studying. I just wasn’t healthy enough to put myself out there and pursue what it was I really wanted to do. Even making normal friendships was hard for me.

Getting into therapy, learning to manage and overcome my anxiety, and making healthy changes in my life has opened up a whole host of new doors for me. In the last two years I’ve finally been able to come out of my shell and develop healthy friendships, and expand my range of activities. I can travel, go out, and do all kinds of things without anxiety, and that’s a pretty amazing thing for someone who used to suffer from debilitating panic attacks just leaving the house or talking to another person.

Last May, one of my favorite bands came to a town nearby for a concert, and I went with a couple of girlfriends. It was there, watching the concert, that I realized how badly I missed making music, and how much I wanted it to be a part of my life again. I started looking for other musicians in the area and for potential bands to join.

As I’ve posted in other blogs, this led to a lot of meetings with new people, and to a lot of dead ends. I met lots of musicians who were individually cool people but couldn’t get a cohesive group together. I auditioned for more than one band that didn’t like my voice and elected not to work with me. It was devastating, but also an extremely valuable learning experience. Going to auditions helped me learn how to manage my nerves, and also taught me what to expect.

A little over a week ago, I was house sitting and mulling over the state of my quest to once again be in a band. I was feeling a little depressed over the whole thing. I had just been into one of the local music shops looking for musicians and hadn’t turned up any promising leads. I talked to a drummer I’ve become friends with who informed me that he had found a band nearby to join. I was happy for him, but disappointed that I hadn’t found anything of my own. I looked on the local message boards again and sent out some emails, fully expecting that nothing would come of them.

But persistence pays off, and this time, something did come of one of my inquiries to a local band that had recently lost their lead singer. I heard back from them on Wednesday and exchanged several emails with one of the members over the course of the next several days. On Saturday, I met the bassist, guitarist, and manager for coffee; it went well, and on Sunday, I auditioned for them informally with a microphone and my ipod for back up. It went well, and they asked me back for a second audition last Thursday. I spent the week tied up in knots and trying to keep out of my own way. I kept thinking about an audition I went to for another band, who had nothing but positive things to say while I was in their presence, but decided they didn’t like my voice. I was afraid to get my hopes up and be disappointed again. No matter how badly you want something, after a string of disappointments it’s hard not to let it get to you.

I spent most of Thursday staring at the wall in my office and watching videos on youtube. Getting work done just wasn’t happening with all my anxiety. I felt a strange mixture of nervous excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time. By the time I walked into the little rehearsal space the band practices in, I was ready to just get things over with.  About two hours into the audition, the bassist casually leaned into his microphone and said, “Okay…you can be in the band.”

And just like that, I find myself in a band again for the first time in ten years. I couldn’t be happier, or more excited to see where this journey is going to take me. By the time I got home from the audition, there were multiple posts on my facebook wall welcoming me to the band. We’re brainstorming names, working on new songs, and starting to talk about practice times and upcoming shows. These are experienced musicians that I’m excited to be able to work with and learn from, and it will be amazing to be surrounded by people who can help me reach my full potential as a singer and performer.

In short: persistence pays off. This is something that a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to stick with, because the anxiety and disappointment would have been too much. Now I’m able to learn from all the experiences – acknowledging that they suck at the time, but ultimately help me improve and expand my horizons. I heard once that life hands you the lessons you need to learn over and over again. It’s pretty amazing to be able to see them paying off now, and to finally feel like I’ve reached a turning point and I’m moving on to a new phase in my life. Amen to lessons learned.

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