A Flash of Unexpected Self-Esteem

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know that I’ve always struggled with the unholy trinity of poor self-esteem, anxiety, and perfectionism. It’s a perfect storm of negative self-talk and self-denigration. It’s been so bad at times that I’ve found myself saying things to myself that I wouldn’t say out loud to people I hated.

 

angry man yelling and pointing his finger at you
This guy wouldn’t say the kind of things I say to myself to other people. Never ever.

 

If you know all that about me, then you’ve also known me long enough to know that I’m a musician. My first public performance was less than a week after my fifth birthday, singing Carol of the Questioning Child with Mama and the church choir on Christmas Eve. I’ve had formal lessons on voice, piano, concert flute, piccolo, alto flute, clarinet, oboe, and trumpet. At last count, I can play more than 40 instruments with varying degrees of success.

I’ve brought people to tears with my singing. I once understudied the lead role in an opera, and a song I composed was performed to a standing ovation from over 400. Somewhere, I’ve got an album full of ribbons and certificates that would tell you how good I am. You wouldn’t have to take my word for it.

But take my word for it; I’m a really good musician.

 

Marching band in front of the U. S. Capitol building
See all those instruments? I can play them all. I can even play the funny hat.

 

However…

If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you know that I’ve always struggled with the unholy trinity of poor self-esteem, anxiety, and perfectionism. It’s a perfect storm of negative self-talk and self-denigration. It’s been so bad at times that I’ve found myself saying things to myself that I wouldn’t say out loud to people I hated.

 

Funky looking dragon chicken hybrid with great eyelashes gargoyle
We’re talking things funky looking dragon-chicken hybrid with great eyelashes gargoyle wouldn’t say out loud to other people. Never ever.

 

(Yes, I just repeated all that. Yes, it was on purpose.)

I am my own worst critic. I set impossible standards for myself, then lambaste myself endlessly for not meeting them. So much so that if you were to find me after a performance and compliment me, I would take the opportunity to tell you exactly where and when and how I screwed up. I would ignore all the amazing things I’d just done with my instrument, regardless of which instrument, and excoriate myself until my soul was laid bare and you could see exactly how little I thought of myself.

 

charred piece of sheet music on sand
This is kind of how I felt after every performance. There was still a teeny tiny bit of music left, but the rest was burned away.

 

I spent about four hours today putting together a Spotify playlist full of every “I’m gonna get up and get out and be magnificent and kick ass and take names” song I could come up with. That’s in addition to the seven hours I spent yesterday compiling the songs in the first place. It’s got everything. MC Hammer and Miley Cyrus. Disturbed and The Pointer Sisters. Frank Sinatra and Kanye West. Jimmy Eat World and Meat Loaf. Eminem and Lesley Gore. Right Said Fred and Whitesnake. Nearly eight hours comprised of 90 some songs of awesomesauce.

And of course, since I’m a singer, I’ve been singing along. It dawned on me at one point that I wasn’t just singing along, I was using proper technique to sing along. Belting out Wasted or crooning Hero, didn’t matter. Soft palate up, jaw dropped, and rib cage out, while I was browsing web pages and playing solitaire.

 

Mariachi singer
I really need to start wearing cool hats.

 

Then it happened.

Michael Crawford popped up. I love Michael Crawford. He was singing Not Too Far From Here. I adore Not Too Far From Here. I stopped doing everything else, turned my chair towards the invisible audience of thousands outside my window, and sang.

Then it got strange.

After I let go of the last note, I grinned, wiped away a tear, patted myself on the back, and said out loud, “That was nice. Good job, Kriss.”

I’ve obviously lost my mind and need to see my therapist as soon as humanly possible. Positive self-talk has to be bad for the environment. Or baby seals. Can’t save the whales with positive self-talk or high self-esteem. All these psychiatric medications I take (five of them!) have clearly warped my mind. I sincerely hope it’s For Good.
This post was originally posted on February 14, 2017, on krissjudd.wordpress.com, and updated before being posted here.

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