Poison skin and razor teeth

Things Riyoko Says: as of late, not much.

I have just arrived home from dinner with an old friend, Leaf. We talked about how our musical education has instilled in us a drive to take the hard route when it comes to mental blocks.

The easy route: run away and drown out that negative voice with Netflix or YouTube, drink and party, and just ignore your commitments altogether – it’s easier to give up than try and fail, right?

The hard route: face your negativity square in the eye, grab it, and wring its neck, even though its skin is poison and its teeth are razor sharp.

Me and Leaf, and others at our school – we held too much responsibility to our teachers, to audiences, to adjudicators and judges, to take the easy route. Running away was just embarrassing and stressful, given we had to return to school everyday and teachers and peers would be more confused than anything else as to why we hadn’t practised in two weeks. It was easier – and saved face – to battle mental blocks and negative voices with more hours in the practice room, more scales, more lessons and masterclasses and performances.

I’m not saying that’s easy – it’s probably a large part of why I’m prone to depressive bouts and anxiety. The negativity and mental blocks never goes away, no matter how hard you fight. You just nurture the reaction that makes you face that voice, time and time again. It’s like honing a muscle – sometimes weaker and sometimes stronger, but always there.

Which is why I am writing this post, almost a year since my last, because I have been running from writing. It’s something I care about, and I have so much I want to say – I have 19 drafts that I haven’t even posted! But every time I pause to consider writing a post, I convince myself I have nothing interesting to say, or that the reason I have 19 drafts is because they were too poor quality to publish. It’s easier to run and complain that I’m too busy to maintain this blog, than to stop, and face this fear – that I’m unoriginal and inarticulate – grab it, and wring its neck, even though its skin is poison and its teeth are razor sharp.

Not sure where this is going – something like my hands will heal and become stronger? Not keen on that as a metaphor because I don’t agree with the concept of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and its implications. Anyway, maybe writing and posting this in spite of my hesitancy will be a way of exercising the muscle of resilience, honing that reaction that makes me face up to my fears.

Anyway, thanks, Leaf, for inspiring this post.

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