I had a drum lesson tonight and I left it feeling bummed. Not that anything bad happened during the lesson – I practiced “Panama” and chatted with my teacher like I always do. But I felt a sense of disappointment from him because I haven’t been practicing like I should. I mean, I did practice – the night before the lesson and then during lunch today. So not very much at all. As sad as that sounds, it’s more than I used to practice in the past. But it’s not enough. I still am fumbling over really easy parts, stuff that shouldn’t be a problem for me. I sense Michael’s disappointment, and I’m disappointed in myself too.
It’s not like I don’t enjoy drums. I love playing. But after the high of returning to lessons decreased a little, the reminder of my Achilles’ Heel returned – practicing. I have to practice to be better. I was never good at it, even when I was a young violinist, because I’m such a lazy music student. So lazy. And my orchestra teacher was mad at me then, too. Because she told me I had huge potential, once upon a time. But I never practiced, so I squandered it. Now I sound like Jack Benny if I try and pick up the violin.
Maybe on paper I sound like an accomplished person. I have a master’s degree in engineering, I work for a Fortune 500 company and am fairly decent at what I do, and I have made my return to endurance running. I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, because I aim to live my life with humility and always assume that there’s nothing entirely special about myself. But sometimes I have to remember all that I’ve accomplished or else I’ll recount all my failures. Disappointment in yourself leads to self-loathing, a path I have taken many times in my life. I don’t like hating myself. I realized recently that I actually like who I am now, which is completely opposite of how I felt in my more angsty early twenties, when I would have given anything to be someone else.
I am always too ambitious and think of different projects to try, but then I don’t finish the majority of what I want. I learn just enough of a new skill or instrument to be passable, and then get lazy when it gets hard. This is why I’m stuck at the level I’m at after three and a half years of playing.
I don’t have any excuse, really. I don’t have any children to raise. I just have my job and my dog, and a boyfriend that I see only on weekends. I run after work and cook dinner and pick up my apartment a little. I don’t have any huge commitments other than puppy classes or drum lessons. I should have plenty of time to accomplish what I want to do.
Perhaps I should be easier on myself. I’ve learned so much by navigating through my sometimes difficult twenties. I’m older and realize that I need to work hard at things I want to be good at. I have finished more projects that I’ve started this year because I was determined to. Maybe not all hope is lost.
I can use disappointment to my advantage, to keep me working hard to accomplish my goals. But until then, it will sit heavily in my stomach as I remember all my failures.