Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I have a problem with credit. Not the "I spent too much money" kind of credit, the acknowledgment kind of credit. I don't like being the center of attention, I don't like being singled out, I don't like when the teacher knows my name. In school, I couldn't be the kid who turned in their test first, I just couldn't, so I would sit at my desk with it until another kid (fifteen or twenty minutes later) would walk up and hand the teacher their test - THEN it was safe to turn in mine. My clarinet professor in college told me during a lesson "You're the most talented musician I've seen come through this school" and that I needed to quit my job (which paid the rent) and concentrate on music. I dropped out at the end of that semester.

I couldn't handle being "the best" anything - all the other clarinet players already hated me because I was straight out of high school and sitting second chair, playing first part, in a space where they felt they rightfully belonged. Maybe they were right. Who was I to argue?

This is directly opposite of my nature when it comes to something factual. I had a woman argue with me about my astrological sign once. I told her I was a Leo, she asked when my birthday was, I told her, she said she thought I was something else, I looked at her like she was insane and told her I was positive I'm a Leo. Then she was like "Wow, you sure are insistent about it!" Was I? Maybe I was - because I KNEW I wasn't wrong.

But things like art, music, writing - it's subjective. Some people will like it, some won't. It's so weird to see what will change someone's mind. My husband has NO opinions of his own. He's the MOST wishy-washy person you will ever meet. He can't even decide where to pick up dinner from. He'll think something is awesome until I tell him why I don't like it - then the next time he talks about it, he hates it. If I go to the movies with someone and the entire theater laughs at a joke I don't get, I'll poke the person I'm with and say "I don't get it." More often than not they say "Yeah, me neither," but they were laughing - why would you do that? You're faking a reaction for strangers in a dark room?

That's the kind of thing that makes me overly critical and judgmental to myself. If you'll pretend to get a joke so a bunch of people you'll never see again don't notice you're not laughing at something THEY probably don't get either, why would I believe you when you say you like something I did? Even here, when I get a nice comment from someone out in cyberspace my initial reaction is "Oh, I gotta take it down. What if someone else sees it and they like it, too?" It's so much easier to be a college dropout stay-at-home mom than an aspiring clarinet player whose teacher fed her what she wanted to hear. (He flunked me, by the way.) It's so much easier and less frightening to hide in the shadows. I'm not afraid of failure, not even a tiny bit - what am I going to fail at? I'm terrified - shaking in my boots terrified, want to hide in the closet terrified - of success. So I paint and I show my friends pictures of a painting here and there. I play my clarinet in the University band that my friend conducts. And my paintings gather dust in a stack on the floor, my clarinet spends most of its time silent in its case. How long did it take me to realize I was horribly, unspeakably, irrationally terrified of succeeding? About thirty years. You?


  1. I feel the same way with my writing. When I suspect that something just might be GOOD, I run away from that project. I stop writing. I hide.

    Gradually, I'm hiding less. One small (as in tiny teeny weeny) step at a time, right? It says a lot that you can recognize this behavior trend of yours.

    Btw, I wandered over here from Suzi Blu's classes. Hi! I'm Betherann over there, and newly joined. :)

  2. Hi, Beth! :) I'm hiding less, too. A little. Sort of. Baby steps!