A Week of Thoughts in Three Sondheim Lyrics

1. “Slightly Rearranged”

Tonight is my last night in North Carolina for awhile. North Carolina has been my home for my entire life and functions as the tree trunk to all my 23 years of memories. Besides it’s insane politics, this place currently has and always will have a special place in my heart. Tomorrow morning, I head up to Bloomington Indiana to begin my graduate studies in music composition at Indiana University. I have (and I assume most people have as well) a fear of change. Fear of the domino effect that ensues when one thing changes, fear of losing people, etc. Being in my early twenties, I move around a lot to “further my career” by which I mean to logically move to the next step. From Greensboro for my undergraduate work, to Raleigh for my first public school teaching job, and now to Bloomington for graduate school. I long for the day when I won’t have to think about packing and settle down somewhere. 

Ultimately, my focus gears towards the things that stay the same. Oddly enough, NPR is my consistent through line to making change a little more familiar. Hear me out, being able to hear the Morning Edition theme wake me up and listen to Steve Inskeep read the news while I sip my morning coffee is just enough of the nostalgic bliss I need to feel comfortable in a new environment. Needless to say, without getting too preachy or “The More You Know”-y, the more I move the more I realize that nothing really changes all that much. My family stays the same, my relationships, friendships, etc. Also my Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

2. “…But then what if he knew who I am when I know that I'm not what he thinks that he wants?”

As artists, we, for a fact, know our own work better than anyone ever will. We are there from initial conception to birth to adolescence (performance?) and maybe even to death (pulling a work from the catalogue). Each work takes a great deal of emotional and mental work, accessing both the left and right side of the brain to full capacity. This being said, we also know every aspect of the piece that just plain doesn’t work. We know the passages that we finally shrugged off and said “it will be what it will be” and clicked print. Most people (with the exception of a few who won’t admit it) are their own worst critic. 

Since I’ve been writing music, I’ve had this nagging critical voice in my head that of course pokes it’s head out when the writing process is in full swing…but also has begun to show up when I should have been happy. Whenever I received any sort of praise or achieved any sort of long/short term goal, I believed it was a fluke or a mistake. In one way or another, it’s that feeling of when you cheat at something on a small or large scale. You get a little panic-y and glance around to see if anyone caught you. In my case, I am waiting for someone to find me after a concert or during a lesson, take me aside, and tell me… ‘I know you don’t have a clue.’ But of course, we know ourselves better than anyone. We know what we struggle with day in and day out. My aural skills are not nearly as strong as my knowledge of music history or theory and to me, that comes through clear as day in my music. I myself know this better than anyone and deep down inside, I’m waiting for someone to hear my music and find out that I indeed don’t deserve to be doing what I’m doing.

My dream and goal in high school was to go to a good graduate school and, now that I am (in my view of things), it is a blessing that is now causing me a great deal of anxiety. It is the answer, or some peek to the answer, to the question “what happens when you get what you want”? Is everything really solved once you get the things you want in life? The imposter complex says that when you get what you want…you don’t deserve it. It is difficult to take a step forward when everything tells you to take two steps back. 

It took until this year for me to finally find out that this so-called imposter complex was an actual mental process. It is defined as ‘a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”’. Even though it feels like a bit of a humble brag to define myself as a ‘high achieving individual’, it helps to know that this is a common thought pattern. I’m not quite sure what this means though…taking this major step is going to happen in a little over 12 hours and I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen. But, as many people have done before me, I’m going to go and work as if I know what I’m doing…because I’m beginning to figure out what I’m doing.

3. “Move On, Stop worrying where you’re going, Move On”