Last Friday, I mentioned that I had attended my first bluegrass session last week. I had so much fun, but also came to some important realizations. This isn’t my typical blog post, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.
I started trying to learn to play bluegrass guitar about a year ago, but really got serious about practicing and learning this summer. I’ve come to love the music, and the heritage behind it. I enjoy learning new songs and figuring out how to play them on the guitar my grandfather made. Traditional bluegrass music is often played in semi-informal gatherings, where musicians come together to sing and play old time songs. Ever since I started playing, I’d wanted to participate in such a gathering, but I always felt I wasn’t ready.
I’m the typical, perfectionist oldest child. I try to work hard at things, and I always want to be the best I can at a skill or job. So, with bluegrass music, I thought that I should sound like a professional before I went to a bluegrass session. That is, until some new friends of my family expressed an interest in going to the local gathering, and asked if I wanted to go along. Suddenly, my mom and I were heading to meet our friends at the bluegrass session! I decided to put my guitar in the car, but wasn’t planning on playing. However, once we were there, one of the musicians asked me what I played, and if I had brought my instrument. Before I knew it, I was in the circle of musicians, strumming away and having the time of my life! Sitting there, with the music and friendly faces around me, was like a dream come true.
In that moment, I realized that I don’t always have to be perfect. I don’t always have to be the best, or the most professional. Playing my guitar, I had to quickly learn unfamiliar songs. I had to rely on the other people there to teach me, and I didn’t always get it right. And it was ok. Together, as a group, we made the music work, and it sounded great!
We don’t always have to be perfect. Of course, there are occasions and situations where there’s definite right and wrong, I’m not talking about that. But day to day, I’m trying to learn to relax a little. That outfit, blog post, email, conversation, or musical performance doesn’t necessarily have to be just so. It’s important to try hard, and put my best effort into something, but not to the point that it’s emotionally unhealthy. It’s good to be forgiving of ourselves, to accept where we are at a given point in our lives, but continue giving our best to what we have to do.
It’s also important to accept other people’s help, and even to rely on them! I tend to want to do everything myself, so that I don’t have to worry about other people doing something right, or meeting a deadline. But ultimately, that’s a prideful way to think, because often, I need those people in order to accomplish tasks or learn new skills! By accepting help, I can be a better addition to the group than I would be on my own steam. If I hadn’t listened to the musicians around me and reached out for guidance, I would have made the whole group sound worse, instead of contributing to the music!
This week, I’m going to work hard to accept my imperfections. To not be so hard on myself when I don’t measure up to my own expectations. I’m going to try to reach out to the people around me for help and support, and try to humbly offer the same to others. I learned more than music at last Thursday’s session, and I’m so thankful for that.
What lessons have you learned lately? Are you a perfectionist too, or are you more relaxed?