I’ve done it.
I’ve been Extraordinary for two straight years!
Since this is the an aptly placed day in the week for an end-of-summer-post – school starts in exactly a week – I think I will use this momentous occasion as reflection on the summer. As you may have already noticed, I like reflection posts.
Pre-summer, I had a lot of goals. Among them were
- Learn trumpet*
- read over 20 books
- play out (on guitar) as much as possible and jam
- ride my bike into town (about a 30 minute ride)*
- become decent in French
- gain more knowledge about gardening
- keep up with German
- get a job
I think I was a bit too ambitious.
Approximately 10% of this actually happened. Why? I don’t really know, but I think it had a bit to do with my lack of schedule during the summer, so I just never tried to fit everything in. I summed it up on a phone call with my friend Sami: “I have a lot that I could do, but I just don’t feel like doing it all, all day.” It’s the summer, for Pete’s sake! I set my sights too high!
(* = what was actually accomplished)
I was initially ticked off at myself. I am a big criticizer of time-wasting, so my first reaction was, “You had ALL day, almost every day to do stuff!! Why didn’t you get on the ball?!”
Then, it hit me; a few days ago. This was an intellectual summer. My mom said, “You’ve moved past trying to ‘prove’ yourself,” which I had been doing all year, as a newbie sophomore, and an inexperienced instrumentalist.
This was the Summer of Questions.
I asked myself over and over: why do I do music? Why do I write this blog? Why do I get such a kick out of learning new things? Why am I still swimming? Why am I not like the other musicians in my school? Why couldn’t I have just stuck with one instrument and mastered it like everyone else? Instead of branching myself almost too thin? (in everything) When am I finally going to jam with someone?
This was the Summer of Thinking.
I thought about myself. The labels I put on myself: introvert, musician, funny, quiet, blond, teenager, vegan, smart, writer, German speaker, friend, sister, twin, daughter, thinker…
lonely, left out, afraid, socially awkward, timid, busy, overwhelmed, underwhelmed, stressed, hopeless romantically, angry, inadequate, under-appreciated, unsure of myself…
This was the Summer of New.
A new lifestyle – vegan. A new instrument – trumpet. A new language – French. A new schedule – more band than ever before. A new outlook – I am better than I ever was before.
This was the Summer of Streamlining.
I could do without swimming; it takes up too much time for me. I could do without caring what others thinking; that will just slow me down. I could do without hesitation; if I don’t want to waste time, hesitation was one big problem. I could do without self-criticism; if I don’t appreciate myself for who I am, how will I ever be happy in whatever I do?
I could do with a friendlier attitude; I usually assume people will think I’m weird for talking to them out of the blue. I could do with a more positive outlook; progress isn’t always monumental. I could do with more vegetables and less meat and dairy; check. I could do with more music on my plate; I can handle it. I want it.
This was the Summer of Realizations.
Everyone has to have a beginning stage. After that’s over, you’ve got to take the dang reigns and steer yourself to where you want to go. (My guitar teacher mentioned, about a weekly jazz session at a local restaurant that I go to, “In the beginning, you were just excited to be included. Now that you’ve come a few times, you’ve got to get in there and make a name for yourself.”) Progress is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how small. Progress is never made unless one steps up whenever they can to give it a whirl.
I can make a BFD (big f-ing deal) about anything I want. Why should I care what others may think if I’m truly full of joy for something? I am playing four instruments this year – which is exciting – but I (vitally) play favorites. Guitar is my one and only – figuratively speaking – and I need to prioritize her or him or it. I haven’t decided on a name yet. I’m actually a big fan of the one-syllable names, like Elle, Sal, Em, Art, etc.
This was the Summer of Answers.
I do music because if I didn’t, I would be furious with myself. I would always be regretting that decision. I do music because I love it. Simply put: I. Love. It. Why? I don’t know! This is the Answers paragraph! Maybe because expression through audio brings me more joy than any other medium. My heart blossoms when I hear good music.
I write this blog because anytime I come across a great idea, my first inclination is “I gotta write a post about this.” I write this blog because I think what I have to say is important, and my thoughts blossom fully when I write them, rather than speak them. I write this blog because I honestly believe we all can/could/should be extraordinary.
I love learning new things because the more I know, the deeper I can connect with an idea, person, place, thing, or animal that pertains or is partial to that topic. The wider my scope becomes. I love learning new things because the fact that I don’t know them, and I am about to know them, is inexplicably exciting to me. Discovering novel concepts is like going on an archeological dig, and hitting something hard, and carefully brushing away the dirt and dust, and finally realizing that you’ve just uncovered an unfathomably valuable and unseen before artifact.
I still swam because swimming comes natural. It is a hobby. Competitive swimming, maybe not anymore. But I swam because gliding through the water was one way a clumsy and awkward land-person can find physical control.
I am not like other musicians at my school because I am simply not like them. I posses different traits. For instance: I am a girl. I am a beginner. I am sympathetic. I am a bit timid. I am determined. I am not flashy. I do care what others think (sometimes, that ain’t a bad thing). I am a tad naive. I am younger than them. I have a myriad of other hobbies as well. I am quiet. I wasn’t ready then. I am ready now.
I can’t stick with one instrument because the novelty of the other ones is too great for my weak self-control. Music is so much greater than one instrument, one person, one sound. As I said before, discovering novel things produces greater understanding. I will understand the rest of the band if I understand their medium. That is my way of paying closer attention: spending my off-time preparing for next time.
I will jam with someone eventually. Summer is actually, like, the worst time to make plans with anyone, since everyone’s schedule is up in the air. School starting is my savior.
This summer was mental prep for this coming school year. I was asked by my good friend Maddie S if I had a resolution for this school year? I was pretty miffed because I KNEW I had one, but I didn’t carve it out yet, so I couldn’t give it to her. I think I’ve got one, though. I think I might have carved one out.
I resolve to: be extraordinary.
Simply that. I make so many goals – I am a chronic goal-setter and list-maker – and they just depress me more when I either put off doing them, or can’t find the time to get them done. So I’ve taken a tip from my English teacher about writing (no murky sentences; get all unnecessary words OUT.) and applied it to myself.
Be clear. Be focused. Be motivated. Be extraordinary, for God’s sake. Good Lord, I’ve been preaching that phrase for two years. Time to practice it. (It’s the least I could do)
My plan is this: whenever I’m stuck. In a pickle. Stressed out. At a loss for what to do. In crunch-time. Afraid. Shy. Too timid. Hesitant…My mantra: be extraordinary. Clear my head of murk (the negative stuff) because that just wastes time, and focus on one thing: what is extraordinary that I can do, right now, and how can I do it?
Even when I’m happy, pleasant, complacent, comfortable, relaxed, determined, enthralled, well-received – I must recognize: I’m being extraordinary.
An extraordinary pat on the back, I deserve.
* * *
What is something you did this summer and are proud of? Regret not doing? Want to do again?