I have fallen down the rabbit hole again, returning to a state that I call frozen. It has occurred over and over throughout my life, periods of time where I don’t seem to be able to move forward with goals, existing in some strange limbo. I become overwhelmed with all there is to do and seem to just stall out, obsessing over all that needs to be done, but avoiding most every step that would help me push past the blocks.
I have talked with therapists about this over the years. Is it a fear of failure? Or perhaps a fear of succeeding? Always the ‘good girl’, perfection is ever present in the back of my mind. No matter the source, it is incredibly frustrating, and I wish so much that I could do a final battle with the beast and be done with it.
I am a very capable woman; I have earned a doctoral degree with straight A’s, achieved many important things professionally and am well-respected by my peers. I have rebooted my life after a painful divorce. I’ve rebooted my body…more than once…losing up to sixty pounds. When I click into my place of focus, I am dedicated completely to finishing what I’ve started – unstoppable. And then it happens again…I achieve the goal and there are so many more waiting in line. What would happen if I failed this time? But if I succeeded, would it be truly good enough?
I have always over programmed my life, packing in many professional obligations- often above and beyond what I ‘have’ to do. I love my career, and staying busy with it brings great joy along with the stress. For a while, I mentally sat with the idea…why always so busy? What gap are you trying to fill? I kept coming back to the fact that I truly enjoy what I do and it gives me pleasure to go above and beyond. (*see Perfectionism above) I am the fierce protector of those I care for (well, as fierce as Mary Poppins can be) and mother to my students and must do my best by them. I want to be a great wife and partner to Dan and take care of our home and animals. I want to perform at a high level on my instrument. I want to get back to working on a healthier body…a recurring theme as stress takes the wheel.
Why can some people just click into gear and stay there while others -at least temporarily- stall, even though they know the exact steps to success. It’s a conundrum that I would love to unravel at some point, but right now I am focused on the 80 clarinetists who will be on campus for my clarinet symposium this weekend, along with Richard Stoltzman, the world’s most famous clarinetist. Pressure, anyone? And then my performance in San Antonio the following weekend at the Texas Music Educators Conference for my clarinet maker, then a guest artist appearance in Mobile followed by a tour with my Duo. All wonderful things…but terrifying when I am in this place of self-doubt. There is no choice however; the only way out is through, in the words of Winston Churchill. Wise man, that Winston.
I desperately want to push through this, forcing myself to tow the imaginary line. However, this is obviously a lesson I am called to repeat until I finally learn it. All I know is that I have to sit in the frozen lane until the thaw comes. It always does, making success even sweeter. I’ll be ready to do my celebration dance- and to move forward so that I never stop growing and learning. Ever.