Submitted by annikastheory in MentalWellbeing

I keep chickening out with this post, don't know if this is the right place for it either but whatever. I have been told I overshare before and I also worry that somehow things can be used against me, which I think is a real concern on the internet. I guess sometimes I also buy into that shitty idea that somewhere someone has it worse so I don't have a right to complain, but fuck that. I could use someone's advice or maybe encouragement. I told myself I would keep this short but it turned out longer than I thought it would, which is true of basically everything I have ever written ever.

Prior to college I was really passionate about playing guitar, most of my junior and senior year of high school I averaged about 6 hrs of practice a day. Many of my peers were told our whole lives that it didn't really matter what degree we got that college would set us up and I believed that. So naturally I went to college for a music major and I don't know if this is an important detail but it was a pretty average college not like a college that specialized in music or anything.

First semester of college I signed up for the elective class "Song Writing". Now I thought this class would be about music theory and learning about lyrics and stuff like that. Instead we were just given the same assignment every week and didn't actually learn anything. The assignment was, on Monday you would be given a theme, By Wednesday you would have the sheet music written and by Friday you would have a finished recording of the song. This finished recording was to be played on Friday in front of the class.

Now this was an elective with a small amount of credits so I had other classes to do and not adequate time to do this assignment the way I had wished to. I was committed to actually learning something so I was trying to experiment with songwriting and do things in weird time signatures and experiment with modes and other stuff I hadn't tried before. I didn't put together what my peers did, which was that if you wanted to complete the assignment on time you had to write really really simple songs.

So every week that semester (so at least a dozen times) I would have a pretty shoddy song just barely recorded. I would play it in front of the whole class and then the teacher would tear me apart in front of my peers. He would then ask for the class to input and most of the time they would just sort of stare off and avoid eye contact with me or the teacher, sometimes the meaner of them would tear me down too. and when I say he would tear me apart I don't mean constructive criticisms either it was just straight mean shit.

That class set the precedent for the rest of my time in college. Most of the music majors were very cliquey and I became a pariah after that. Even in my great moments I would get comments like, "I can't believe what people say about you that was great". I also was really beat down and that led to me losing a lot of confidence in myself. Which led to the wonderful spiral where I wouldn't practice much because I lacked confidence and then I would get berated because I wasn't practicing enough.

Eventually I got kicked out of the music program. I haven't really touched a guitar since and its been quite a few years now. I just get so much anxiety and pain every time I pick one up. I am so angry that these people have had so much influence on me. The greatest passion in my life is now a source of pain for me. I want to take it back, I want to play again, I want to just move past all of it but frankly it hurts a lot and I have no idea how to get through it. Just the idea that anyone might overhear me practicing scales scares the hell out of me. Like I am fragile as hell about it now. Fuck my teachers for doing this to me.

If you read all of that thank you. If you have any advice I would appreciate it.

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topa wrote

Maybe some of this is useful for you:

If you practiced six hours a day, you’re likely good. The one-size-fits-all weekly songwriting situation didn’t fit you, that’s ok. You have your own pace.

Weird time signatures etc is the kind of thing where it depends on a lot whether it’s going to work out for you. If you want it to work out, unless you have a group of people who can ‘see’ what you’re doing, you have to show occasionally and definitively that you can do ‘regular’ music well - if you are interested in being understood, which isn’t necessary, but probably makes your life easier.

I think you should just practice again. Take it slow, and don’t expect much initially.

If the initial issue is that others might hear you, then maybe be somewhere where nobody can hear you.

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annikastheory OP wrote

Weird time signatures etc is the kind of thing where it depends on a lot whether it’s going to work out for you. If you want it to work out, unless you have a group of people who can ‘see’ what you’re doing, you have to show occasionally and definitively that you can do ‘regular’ music well - if you are interested in being understood, which isn’t necessary, but probably makes your life easier.

Yeah that was the conclusion I came to. I wish I would have known that back then. I was convinced that all musicians were in it for the craft of it, that that was what it was about, I was too naive at the time to think there would be diplomacy and politics involved. I would like to say I don't care about being understood. And I guess I don't I just don't want to be actively harassed.

I think you should just practice again. Take it slow, and don’t expect much initially.

If the initial issue is that others might hear you, then maybe be somewhere where nobody can hear you.

Truth be told what I want is a reset button, for this not to have happened. But I have to accept that it did. I am also going to have to accept that my skills have probably deteriorated a lot too. I also want to think I am going to be able to just work myself up and play when I know others are around but maybe I have to accept that right now I can't.

Finding time to be alone is very difficult because I have a family. However coming up in October I may have the opportunity to be completely alone one morning a week so maybe then is the time to start playing again. I guess if I am going to get through it I have to play again and the only way I am realistically going to do that is when I am alone. Maybe my confidence will come back maybe it won't but its still better than not playing at all.

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topa wrote

naive

Yeah sounds like you were and that your initial problem will be solved if you deal with that: Not expecting people to be into weird technical stuff, and realising it takes time to carve a niche with the corresponding listening community.
Being understood and not being actively harassed aren't too far apart in a shit world, maybe.

Can you play into earphones, and if so, couldn't that solve the problem of needing solitude? I don't know enough about your living situation.

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annikastheory OP wrote

naive

Yeah sounds like you were

Hey! That's only ok when I say it! /s

It also never occurred to me to try headphones but that may not work, I am really really paranoid about being heard. Might be able to go into my garage late at night and play some, won't work once winter starts but for now it would be just fine. Maybe I would feel ok in my home with headphones and a noise machine. Might be worth a shot I think noise machines are pretty cheap too.

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bloodrose wrote

I don't have advice but I have sympathy/empathy for you. <3 School is such a horrible thing. We inflict trauma on young people in school. The response I see to "do what you love and never work a day in your life" is "make what you love a job and you'll hate it for the rest of your life." Sounds like they made something you love a job. I'm so sorry. I hope someday you can move beyond the pain. I'm in my forties and thought I was over all the trauma I had from school until I had to send my kid to school. Oh god, I react in a hugely negative way to everything from the teachers and school. If I could, I'd keep my kid out of school and I am every day looking for an excuse to rip her out of there.

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annikastheory OP wrote

Yeah we keep talking about homeschooling but I don't know if it will be a realistic possibility for us, I hope so. I can't escape that feeling that school is designed to keep people down. I appreciate the sympathy.

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kokoaitu wrote

Firstly, if you haven't already I'd probably look at seeking some help to deal with trauma. That sounds like straight up abuse.
I'd say just stand up, and own your music, with no apologies, but I know it's not that simple when working through trauma.

On the being overheard part, could you get an electric guitar and plug it into a computer or amp with headphones attached? Or something similar. Sure there'll be a little string noise but not as much as acoustic.

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annikastheory OP wrote

Firstly, if you haven't already I'd probably look at seeking some help to deal with trauma. That sounds like straight up abuse.

I'd say just stand up, and own your music, with no apologies, but I know it's not that simple when working through trauma.

Its funny because there are many areas of my life where I could just stand up "with no apologies" but music was always a bit of a weak spot for me, a chink in my armor if you will. But yeah I don't think I would have ever thought of it as abuse or trauma. But then I look at my other comment where I am talking about hiding in my garage and using headphones and a noise machine because I am so afraid of someone hearing me and I don't know maybe trauma/abuse fits. At the very least that's kind of fucked up. It would probably do me some good to get help and it isn't like this is the only thing I have to work through either I suppose.

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lettuceLeafer wrote

For me I was in a different scenario I found getting into Johny hobo really made me enjoy an be way more confident in singing and playing guitar.

All of pats songs are theoretically horrible in ways that would probably not be viewed positively by academia. But I fucking love them and no matter how well they are playing most people won't respect it. So why give a fuck, because no matter how you play it people won't respect it.

So enjoy singing DIY orgasms and jamming out because none of your college professors would like it. So fuck their opinion and have fun playing.

Also for me personally refusing to use sheet music and playing exclusively by ear plus maybe looking up chords online was far more enjoyable and far less stressful than playing traditionally correct

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moonlune wrote (edited )

Thanks for sharing this sad story with us. :(

Maybe you can try another instrument now and come back to the guitar a little later?

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Kinshavo wrote (edited )

I feel you, I dropped out two times from college and almost the high school... And all of my art classes (music, painting and drama) killed any artistics pretension I had, to the point I feel frustrated and incomplete.

Fuck school and fuck college too... Hope you can pursue your dreams outside this bad context, I try to follow mine

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annikastheory OP wrote

Some days I wish the world could just pause for a bit and we could all just make art and chill. I think there are few things that make life worth living but I know art is one of them. School and having to "make a living" kind of sucks the soul out of these things though.

Hope you can pursue your dreams outside this bad context, I try to follow mine

Thanks

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annikastheory OP wrote

Thanks for everyone that commented. I really appreciated it. I didn't respond to everyone but even those I didn't I really appreciated your input. I'm looking into getting a noise machine and maybe doing some therapy which should help a lot. If I feel like there is any news regarding this worth sharing I will. Again thanks a lot.

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Stigmata wrote (edited )

Don't let the system get you down! For real, I worked at a radio station and some of the greatest musicians I met would not or did not fit in in college music programs.

If you like guitar play guitar. Don't worry about groups you are in or what people think of your music. You will for sure get better over time, and honestly if people said you are good then you are good.

We need more people exploring arts, it is a neglected field.

I am not a musician but I was a college student, I didn't fit in and I felt dumb as crap, but I got through it and now after a ton of work I have found my niche and a group of people that appreciate my work. If you keep at it you may find your niche too.

Also some professors are just jerks, they tear you down, but you can't let that ruin your passion. Most people are really passionate about one thing and it is awful to lose that passion. Fuck that professor, keep on playing, the world will be a better place for it.

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