This is hard.

My title sounds like complaining – and make no mistake, I’m great at complaining. It’s one of a thousand defense mechanisms I’ve cultivated: state my objections up front, so that when I inevitably fail, well, I said this was far too difficult for me and totally unfair, besides. (I suppose it’s a step in the right direction that I realize it’s a defense mechanism?)

The thing is, I complain, but I always do what’s expected of me. This hasn’t always been true of me in academic settings; I’m sure I heard the words “failing to live up to her potential” once a week as a child, and we won’t speak of my first trip through college yet. But this time around I’ve been diligent; my assignments are done, and done wellI get myself to every single class unless I’m truly sick or something unavoidable has come up. I practice – okay, maybe not quite as many hours as I should, but frequently and with particular attention to fixing the things I know need work. This is an area where I still have plenty of room for improvement, but when it comes down to it I do the work.

And sometimes it’s not enough.

On days like today, when I’ve just witnessed five of my peers do amazing things in a group vocal course, when I’m struggling with my Aural Skills class that I’ve taken twice now, when I realize that I’m reasonably competent but that’s all – and in a field where “reasonably competent” isn’t going to cut it – I have these moments of deep despair. This is hard, and I’m starting late, and I don’t know what, specifically, I want to do with any of it yet. I just know that I love it too much to quit and I have to keep trying for as long as it takes. And that it’s going to be harder work than I imagined possible.

I’m trying to learn to be okay with that; that having to really work at something doesn’t mean I’m bad at it. This isn’t a message I heard often in my life, because I am naturally good at a number of academic subjects and fairly good at winging my way through anything that doesn’t ask anything physical of me. Music is different; music has a physical component, and even ear-training isn’t something that I can logic my way out of. I wasn’t born knowing how to use my voice as efficiently and beautifully as possible. But I’ve made progress, and I can’t allow myself to believe that difficulty is a sign of weakness.

This is hard; I’m starting to come to terms with letting that be okay.


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