• Ruth

New Year, the Same Me!

Happy New Year my wonderful readers! I hope we all stuffed our faces, drank too much and did our best to forget the house arrest of 2020. But don't worry a new year is upon us and it’s all blue skies and rainbows from now on... right?

A New Year is a great chance for a fresh start. To pick yourselves up, dust off the dirt and try again. But have you ever noticed the pressure we put upon ourselves to make the coming year better than the one before? Don't get me wrong. I love a good New Year’s Resolution; I love the optimism it brings. But for those of us that struggle with the idea of perfection, it can slowly turn into an exercise in unrealistic expectations, crushing criticisms with a sprinkling of self-battery.

Every year, I would scan myself for imperfections and resolve to fix them all at the stroke of midnight. Unsurprisingly, all of them (thankfully!) either never got off the ground, or fizzled within the first month. I still haven't got a six pack, I'm not an international soloist and although it's better, I'm still not immune from playing a wrong note or two. Instead of shrugging it off, laughing about it with friends or just accepting I'd set the bar too high, I would give myself an absolute going over. Getting cross, frustrated and just bloody upset.

Aside from setting my sights too high and picking apart things that didn't need fixing, the reasons why they never stuck were that my resolutions weren't things that I really wanted. They were just things that I thought people expected, or worse, things that I "should" achieve.

It's taken me a long time to work out what realistic targets are and where the line between achieving and burning out is, and actually, honestly, I still get it wrong the majority of the time. But I'm learning! For example, I wrote the first draft of this on Boxing Day, when instead of relaxing like the rest of the country, I was panicking about not studying or practising, when (judging from the bags under my eyes) my body was really needing this week off. So, instead of beating myself up about it, I compromised;

write a first draft of the article = brain has achieved something so can sleep

write something honest about self-care = remind my brain that I need this time off!

As not making a New Year's Resolution seems too much of a jump for me right now, I've decided my only goal this year is to be kinder to myself. There's no "new me", just a hope of a more self-accepting one. The way I've talked to myself in the past, has led to overanalysing social interactions , not taking opportunities because "I'm not good enough" and actually I think it's probably a major contributor to my performance anxiety! The pressure to have it all when you graduate can be overwhelming. My career is in the wonderful freelance limbo that is tough for every late 20's early 30-year old. It's completely normal, why do you think Friends did so well?

It may not always come naturally and it's certainly not going to be something I can tick off as completed by the end of the year. But, even if I can notice what I'm doing and learn to redirect that thought pattern into something more loving and productive, I'll be thrilled.

But why inflict these witterings on to you? Well, Musicians everywhere this past year have been feeling at times, frustrated, low and disappointed with cancelled concerts, auditions and opportunities. We're in a state of unknown, one minute it's the uncertainly of the pandemic, next it's the infuriating shitshow that is Brexit. I've said this so often in my posts, we musicians are resourceful, we're never people who give up without a fight but we're also not the first to recognise we need to be kinder to ourselves. I have so many wonderful friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances, who beat themselves up for not being good enough, for not having work, for not looking how they want to look and honestly, we need to take a step back and love ourselves for who we are! Stop our brains from winning and put our health, our wellbeing and our happiness first.

We need to give ourselves time to just breath, unlearn the old habits of pushing until breaking point and learn to know we're enough.

As for the blog, this year I talk more about all those things that us graduates, students and musicians need to talk about. Join me for a year looking at injury, new exciting industry paths and of course the return of the Graduate Interviews!

Happy New Year,

Stay safe,