Has failure ever knock you off your desired course, permanently?
As an adult I can firmly say that any detour or permanent re-route from my dreams, wasn’t necessarily a misdemeanour I could never recover from. Regret never killed anyone, though it's not comfortable and best left with the sleeping dogs.
However, as a young person it broke my heart.
Between the ages of 10-18 years my passion was playing the piano. My first love.
I had a decent amount of natural talent to play by ear and compose my own songs and sing, however corny. I was also being classically trained, as my Dad was a pretty good classical and Jazz pianist.
I’ll never forget my Grade 5 Royal Schools of Music examination around the age of 13years. Naturally I was nervous and the exam was being held in a private home. It was a large formal room with a grand piano on pale lush carpet. An older male examiner sat in the corner of the room behind a desk.
I sat at the piano and immediately I could feel the sustain pedal was too close to the soft carpet, compared to what I was used to. It really threw me. I’d never played on a grand piano before and every piano is different to the touch – my anxiety was rising. By the time I got to the three pieces I had spent months practising, I could no longer understand what the music notations meant in front of me. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience and sadly, what was my best piece became my worst, and my worst became my ‘barely’ best. I was devastated, knowing I had failed.
Unfortunately, as a 13 year old I interpreted that failure as a STOP sign – that was it. No more piano lessons or gradings for me, I was done. I clearly wasn’t good enough.
I can’t honestly recall what my parents said, but I wish someone had stressed the importance of persisting in the face of failure; and that this was part of the path to pursuing what you really love. Maybe they did, my young ears didn’t want to know…however, the decision was made.
So, perhaps this lead me away from pursuing a more musical or creative career later on. Who knows, maybe not!
All I do know is that life can pivot in a moment- sometimes on a piano pedal!
Never give up, your dreams depend on it.