Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just call me Nelly!

Like 99.9% of the people on the planet, I care too much about what others think of me.

I think that's why I'm so very shy. I know that first impressions are everything, and I dread having to make one at all. (We have talked about my fear of failure before, right?)

This fall I decided, shyness be damned, I was going to go out and do something I've been wanting to do for years. So I started taking piano lessons.

It's been going pretty well. I'm learning a great deal about myself, things I should have known a long, long time ago but that I've likely been ignoring in order to live with some illusion of coolness.

Lets' see. Like, for example, I'm a complete nut ball. I like to do things perfectly right from the beginning. I hate to not be the best at something. I think way too much. And...oh! My fingers like to stick out at odd angles like I'm forever clutching a tea cup before the queen.

Yesterday at my lesson, I was feeling strangely nervous. I don't know why. Possibly with our Nor'Easter, my husband being off work, the kids being off school, and my cleaning frenzy to prepare for our home concert, I didn't feel prepared for my lesson.

Now, my teacher is a very nice guy. He's primarily a jazz pianist, but he's the music director at his church too. (He inadvertently made me admit that I don't go to church last week. I wonder if he hates me now.)

He's never been anything but positive and constructive, yet I worry.

When I flub the music all up, I don't want him to think I'm not practicing. I don't want him to think that I'm wasting his time. I don't want him to think I don't respect him as a teacher.

My husband tells me I'm nuts. He says that I pay for the time, it's mine to do with as I please. Cynic that he is, he says that my teacher really only wants to get paid. As long as my check clears, he doesn't care about anything else.

But I think my teacher likes me. We laugh a lot. He's got me playing music I have no business playing after only two months.

But yesterday, as I flexed my fingers to get ready to play, I had to stop and look at him.

"I'm nervous today" I told him. "I don't know why."

"I can tell," he told me. "I'm the most laid back guy around! You don't need to be nervous. But let's warm up with some scales."

So then halfway through the lesson, when I finished up a song I thought I had done pretty well on, he remarked, "Yeah. It's hard to play when you're nervous."

What the...? Do I suck that bad?

He went on to tell me that the first time he met me he could tell that I was a really nervous person.

"I made a note to myself to be as calming and encouraging as I could," he told me.

Seriously? I'm a person that people have to treat with kid gloves? Seriously!

I made a great first impression. And now I won't believe anything positive that comes out of that man's mouth.

Here I was thinking that I'm all strong and courageous, and shy for sure, but gregarious and confident for all that.

Apparently I was wrong.

I feel like I should have just stayed home and never tried something new. I'm embarrassed. And while I sat before my teacher and felt my face flame with a hot blush, I was mortified.

This has affected me more than I like to admit. Probably because I'm such a weak, nervous Nelly.

I won't quit because we all know how bad I am at that, but I am starting to fantasize about the day the kids get out of school when I can tell him that I won't be able to take lessons over the summer because I don't have a sitter.

I've decided to start my own practice challenge. I have next week off because of Thanksgiving, so I am challenging myself to practice every single exercise and song, every day for two weeks. My plan is to be so comfortable with my music that I couldn't possibly be nervous.

There is nothing worse than people who reflect our true selves back at us. Illusions are so very comfortable. They don't make me nervous at all.

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