“Play me, I’m yours”
Every year, a belgian piano store installs a piano in the train station near my school for about 3 weeks. And every year, I take this as a personal challenge to force myself to perform in front of random strangers. I dare myself to go there and play. If the piano is free, I must play. If I have 10 minutes to spare before taking a train or going to a class, I must play. If I have a piece I’ve just worked on and need to test out, I must play it there. And I do this as many times as I can during that time.
Patterns start to arise
Over time, I start to notice the same thing over and over again. I dreaded the moments before I had to play. Especially the first time, it felt terrible. The excitement, the fear, the inevitable screw ups of performing something for complete strangers in difficult situations… All those emotions would be boiling inside me for the whole train ride heading to the station.
Then, after I arrived at the station, came eventually the feelings of comparison when listening to others play before me : the «I’m not good enough» talk or sometimes, the a little less gracious «I’m better than you» thoughts…
When I would play, I dealt with the distracting noises, with the fear and frustration of making mistakes, with the worry about the publics reaction (or «non reaction»)…
Lots of mixed emotions usually arised but in the end always, I had at least the satisfaction of knowing that I stepped out of my comfort zone for just a moment, regardless of whether it was good or bad experience (which usually was a mix of both).
I’ve played the game and challenged myself this way every year now for 5 years every time the piano gets set up in the Namur station. And it amazes me to see how the fears and thought patterns remain the same over the years regardless if I was a poor little amateur pianist or a master student. But the difference now is I start to recognize them and even welcome these familiar feelings because I know they are there to warn me of an ‘uncomfortable’ but they can’t stop me from playing.
Eventually the voices get a bit kinder when I play. The fears, doubts and feelings become easier to manage and it becomes a joy to share a musical moment with random strangers in the most random place. I start to be present and grateful for this wonderful gift life offers once in a while!
So this weekend, my friends, I invite you to step out of your comfort zone for a moment and see what’s on the other side. Do something you’ve been afraid of doing, start that uncomfortable conversation you’ve been avoiding, confront the difficult situation and see what comes out of it! I promise you it will never be even half as bad as what you imagine…