I knew I wasn't that good

I’ve been playing the piano for around 5 years, it’s the hobby in my life that I work really hard at but feel I’m still very average at. I trust that if I keep working at it I will get to where I want to be but I’m realistic about my current ability. 

At the beginning of this year I set a goal of playing in a band. I knew this would be challenging for me as although my skills have developed over the years, playing with others was something that I hadn’t done. I knew that I was putting myself into an environment where I would be extremely self-aware of my incompetencies and I would be in a place where I would feel very insecure. 

After asking around I found a few cool guys who had a weekly jam session and they invited me along to make some music. I remember the first session well, while we were playing I was ultra aware of every mistake I made and at times I would turn my keyboard down just a little bit so I wouldn’t be heard that much. Looking back, my mistakes weren’t terrible it was more about where I was at within myself. At the end of the session I was glad I had went along as I was a step closer to achieving my goal, but I did wonder if I should spend more time on my own before I committed to working with these guys regularly. I felt like I was the weakest link and that I needed to be better before I took the next step towards my goal. 

During the following week leading into the next jam session I was riding a seesaw of emotions around my decision to turn up again. Should I or shouldn’t I? In the end I determined that if I wanted to be a musician who created and performed music I had to go. The next jam session wasn’t that much better, I was still self aware and at times that familiar feeling of being the weak link crept in, but no one was asking me not to turn up so I was now committed to our weekly jam. 

After a couple months of jamming with the boys I was making slow progress but I never really walked away from a session feeling great. Then one night something amazing happened. I was mucking around with a riff on the keyboard and our guitarist/singer said that he liked it. From there the whole band added their pieces into the equation and within 15 minutes we had a song that felt pretty cool. Up until this point playing with the band was a task that was hard work but in that moment it felt amazing! I was buzzing on the inside and as I looked around the band members I finally got the reward of sticking at it. 

This experience reminded me of the battle between instant and delayed gratification. If we put this in a fitness context, delayed gratification can be one of the biggest reasons why people give up. Unlike some areas where you get instant gratification, like sweet foods, drugs and alcohol, delayed gratification often doesn’t deliver a reward until later. You are moving towards growth but at the time it just feels like hard work. Then that special moment hits, that moment where all the work you have put in pays off. Often the best thing about delayed gratification is that the reward is so much better than what instant gratification gives us. 

Sometimes when you are moving towards growth in a way where the reward isn’t obvious or coming yet, you have to just trust that it will. That if you keep at it, no matter how hard the task is, there will come a moment where all of your hard work will pay off. It’s like you are in the dark but you know that if you keep at it the light will come. When you do see the light you get to see the world in a way that makes that dark place all worth it. That’s what delayed gratification can offer, a new level of self that makes your life better, the ultimate reward. 


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Bevan Eyles