FEELING STUCK? PURSUE A NEW SKILL.
My parents bought me a portable electric organ from a yard sale around age ten. As a child, I really wanted to learn how to play the piano, but an organ would have to suffice. We had neither the space nor the finances to purchase a proper piano.
For whatever reason, neither my parents nor I took steps for me to actually learn how to play the instrument. I never had a single lesson. My mother says she offered to get me an instructor but that I equivocated, which she took as a sign of disinterest. I don’t remember it that way, but it doesn’t matter. The organ became a useless piece of dark brown furniture next to my bedroom closet, clashing horribly with my pink-painted canopy bed, vanity, and desk. The dwarf-sized church organ sat in my room, collecting dust, for a decade. Its bench did more for me than the actual keyboard, as I used it to pile on folded laundry and books. Someone taught me a few lines from the song Chariots of Fire but that’s all I ever learned to play (which still holds true today).
One night a few months ago, the image of my ugly old organ made its way into to my thoughts as I attempted to fall asleep. You know what? That organ made me feel bad about myself and I didn’t even know it! I cohabited with that instrument, what became a symbol of incompetence, for many years. I tolerated its presence, without much effort to understand its potential. It was a mere occupier of prime real estate within my sacred space. If I was not going to learn how to play it, we should have parted ways. Did I even want to learn in the first place?
That in-between zone -of possessing something but not being motivated or encouraged to pursue it, is the ‘no-man’s land’ that must be dealt with.
When I didn’t get a book deal after writing a memoir (which I wrote about here on LinkedIn entitled On Failure), I felt despondent, angry, incensed. I became trapped inside a self-afflicted cloud of negativity. Am I a good enough writer? Do I really want to put all that effort into it? I felt really bad about myself, listening to all kinds of self-talk and it got worst before it got better. You can’t write. You’re actually a fraud. You’re not really good at anything. Seriously, what have you ever really done?
So what now? Friends and fellow writers tell me it’s time to get back to writing. As a freelancer, I have the freedom to put out an article here and there without much pressure. And I do, but nothing over 2000 or so words a piece. The desire to write a longer work has not materialized. I am not yet ready.
However, the vision of my childhood organ has jolted me into action. Another power has emerged. The healthy part of me- the part that doesn’t want to give up — has entered with a solution.
I’ll learn a new language!
I have not decided to take this new path because of a newfound interest in a career as a translator or linguist. I want to learn a new language because, as it turns out, I am great with languages. Right now, what I need more than anything else is to build up self-confidence. If I am ever going to get back to writing (which, yes, I hope I will do), then I need to feel productive again. I need to see that I am, in fact, good at something. Gratuitous? Perhaps. But it’s a means to an end.
Languages have always come easy to me. I was raised bilingual and speak Farsi fluently. I also studied Spanish all the way through college and even took courses in Argentina and Spain in adulthood. So, I now choose to pursue something I can bank on. I have an aptitude for language and I enjoy the process of learning a new one. Why not capitalize on that strength as my subconscious cautiously ponders the act of writing another book?
Writing, I suspect, is not at all like that old dusty organ from my childhood bedroom. It’s a powerful ability — one with which I cannot deny an irresistible love affair.
My French teacher says I am a great student, and I am feeling that very particular emotion from which I had become distant — self-confidence. It has only been a couple of months but with every lesson, I gain more assurance in my own abilities.