I walked Marley down the leaf-strewn sidewalks of our neighborhood on this fall morning listening to the music of Bach. I have been in a reflective mood lately, so many thoughts churning around inside my head, and Bach’s music never fails to calm my spinning brain and help me to focus. I feel like I’m on the cusp of some major breakthrough that has taken me my whole life to finally reach…maybe.
I think we can all agree that this year has been a total dumpster fire. People are stressed out, fearful, angry, and divided in a way that I have never witnessed before. I have battled my own fears, my own depression, anxiety, and frustrations and have tried to help my students deal with the overwhelming-ness of it all. Everything and everyone is different now- how could we not be? Life has been turned topsy-turvy and there is no playbook to guide us through.
However…in the midst of all of this chaos, the ever-present clouds of fear and self-doubt have parted for me a bit recently. I’ve had some heavy responsibilities added to my plate as of September 1st, beginning my two-year term as President of the International Clarinet Association, an organization that I love with all my heart. This is in addition to my duties as Associate Chair of our Department of Music, trying to navigate teaching in such a different paradigm, and just trying to keep my emotional head above water in this blasted pandemic. The cherry on top is that I want to make major exciting changes to the organization.
I am an INFJ personality type, and it is challenging for me to speak up about how I feel to others. I also battle a huge Imposter Syndrome, never feeling that I am good enough to deserve the accolades that come my way. I never dreamed of taking on this role, but now that I am here I want to do the very best that I can as a leader. My first reaction to something like this is inevitably self-doubt; the “I’m not good enough, smart enough, tough enough, blah, blah, blah” chatter that just gets in the way. My heart is too soft and I care too much what others think too much of the time. What if I fail? Oh…but what if I succeed?
But…but something is changing. I feel my mother with me, her arms wrapped around me. I hear the mantra she would always use when I shared these feelings of inadequacy with her, Honey, you’re as good as the best and better than the rest! I am realizing that because I have a soft heart, because I am aware that I don’t know everything, that I don’t have all of the answers, and because I’m part of a great team and not alone, that just maybe I can actually be a good leader. I have so many ideas that I hope to implement to make real change happen for the good of the organization, and I think that I can build bridges with others to make them happen. For once I’m seeing the potential in myself and not just my flaws and self-doubt. How exciting to see those clouds part.
I will make mistakes, I’ll stumble, and I’ll still doubt myself. But, I will also succeed. I am the daughter of Dorothy Williams, ‘Heavy D’, and I will remember her constant love and total belief in me. Today, on what would have been her 99th birthday, I am determined even more to be a woman that she would be proud of in everything that I do. I’ll never stop trying, and I will always be so grateful for the gift of her love.