A couple of days ago a friend on Instagram wrote something that I could completely identify with and it made me think again about my own ukulele journey.
Improving Skills vs. Being Present
So this Insta friend asked his followers whether he should start taking more time to practice new songs and post less videos, or if his followers are fine with his content as it is. I’ve been at this exact same point a couple of months ago. I was highly dissatisfied with what I was playing and the videos I produced.
My schedule was, to post a video every other day. That meant to learn, record and edit 3-4 videos a week. That’s a lot of new songs. In the beginning of my ukulele and Instagram journey this was great, because I gained a lot of experience in learning some new chords really fast and work out how to play new songs quickly. But then I hit rock bottom. Since I was applying the same scheme to almost every song, there was no development in my skills. It was all the same ddu udu and it started to bore me and also made me question myself and my skills a lot.
If I wasn’t improving and learning new things, it surely meant, that that whole ukulele thing was not for me anyway, and I’m crap and should probably leave it for those who actually do have skills. This mindset is very toxic and it took me to a place, where playing my ukulele was not fun anymore but a chore.
Ukulele = a chore?
A chore that I had to do to be present on Instagram but also the chore to learn new things on the ukulele. To improve my skills, to become better, to please everyone around me. This last point was something that hit me very hard. I had the feeling, that everyone around me who was kinda involved in my ukulele journey (teachers, coaches, friends from the ukulele scene,…) were really disappointed that at this point in my ukulele journey, I had not advanced further and wasn’t able to do more, to play more and be better in general. I let out my frustration about this in a blog post back then, and I still sometimes feel like that.
Nobody actually said that
“The Thing about Things”, Amanda Palmer
“Because the thing about things is that they can start meaning things,
nobody actually said.”
Here’s the thing though – sometimes we put meaning to things or words, that weren’t even there to begin with. It’s just how we perceive them. That seems to happen a lot with me. People tell me things and maybe critique me, because they genuinely want to support me in my journey. It’s my own choice how I want to perceive it. If I want to see it as a support or as a critique of my own worth.
This is tough for me, I just never expect that people will just be nice and want to support me. Somehow my first instinct is to assume, that they don’t like me, they don’t like what I do and that I’m worth nothing. Then I start to question everything I do and find a million reasons why what I’ll do and how I do it will never be good enough.
Focus on my own growth
It’s a constant struggle, but something I did learn in the last couple of months (while hitting rock bottom a couple of times) is, that I need to focus on my own growth. I try to remind myself that for someone with no musical background I’ve come a very long way in the last 2,5 years. Yes, developing new ukulele skills might take longer for me, than for someone who has been playing guitar since they were a kid and yes, I might have to work on my singing and on many other things, but that’s ok. It’s ok to move at my own speed and to work on skills that I actually want to develop. And it’s also ok to not take every advice, if it leads down a dark rabbit hole for me and drowns me in my own toxic thoughts.
I am doing this for me, I am doing this for fun. Playing ukulele is not my job – and let’s face it – never will be. It’s something I picked up for fun, to destress, to have an outlet. Stressing about it takes the fun away and defeats its purpose. I have to find my own way on how I want to do things and that’s ok.
This is also the reason why I stopped posting a video every other day. If they don’t make me happy (or spark joy, as is the current slang) I don’t want to force myself to do it. I’ve scaled down to two videos a week now. Mondays I usually post a cover song and on Friday an original song. I am working very hard on my original songs and I want everyone to be part of how they develop. So yes, they’re sometimes messy and not fully done. The strumming might be boring and my voice out of tune. But I am working on it and this is where I am right now. And that’s ok – and it’s finally fun again.
Do you ever experience something like that? You can tell me about it in the comments or write me a message.