When I think about the idea of recording again, I’m torn. There’s something weirdly comforting about knowing I have the songs outside of myself. Like going through a box of photographs. They’re memories. So that’s the pull that brings me back to the idea of recording… I just really hate the process. It brings out every negative, self-critical, perfectionistic trait I HATE; the parts of me for which I have little self-compassion. And in the ever-consuming, narcissistic, attention-seeking culture in which we live, why should my voice matter.
I constantly question if my songs are worthy. Then I think about how fiercely I connect to certain music, and I wonder if the songwriters of some of my favorite songs also ever grappled with this. What even makes a song worthy of sharing?
NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest: “Hollow”
In another effort toward healing, I submitted an original song to the NPR 2022 Tiny Desk Concert Contest.
I haven’t wanted to go to a vulnerable place and play my own music because I’ve honestly felt pretty raw for a long time, and it’s been difficult to get through a song without crying.
I gave myself permission to leave my job after almost a decade working in home health care (complete with dog bite to the face), and my last day was March 3. It was a highly emotional day, so I came home, had dinner with the family, saw the girls off to their activities, put the little guys to bed, and went downstairs into our office, still in my scrubs and a messy bun, and told myself I would record ONE take of this song (clearly with no regard for image, sound or lighting), and submit it. And that’s what I did.
I have met countless people in my tenure as a therapist and shared in their trauma. It’s incredibly tragic how life can change in an instant. This song is ultimately about grieving. I hope it speaks to you in some way.
I started reading a book recently entitled Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff. Self-compassion is a powerful concept, and it’s one I never considered because:
A.) I never heard of it, and
B.) It never came naturally to me.
The idea behind it is simple really: be kind and compassionate to yourself when confronted with personal failings. It’s often easy to have compassion for others, offering understanding and kindness during times of strife or when mistakes are made. Yet, when it comes to ourselves, we can mercilessly judge and criticize ourselves for our various shortcomings. This whole concept struck a chord with me because beating myself up DOES come naturally to me, as I think it does to many others. I never considered that I could be kind to myself. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. We are all a part of a shared human experience.
Self-compassion is NOT self-pity or self-indulgence. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. For cronic self-beater-uppers like me, I look at it as a way to retrain my brain to be more emotionally healthy.
I wanted to share a story from the book that resonated with me:
A Native American wisdom story tells of an old Cherokee who is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good–he is joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
For more information on self-compassion, visit http://www.self-compassion.org/.