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Teenage Dream – Part 1

What were you dreams as a teenager? Did you aspire to become an actor? Maybe you wanted to be a famous singer, or a tennis champion? Maybe a ballerina? Or a famous chef? A TV host… or all of the above?

As the newsletter readers will know, I’ve been dying to share my latest adventure with you, but I was so scared I’d jinx it that I’ve held back until now. Until after the realisation of one of my greatest teenage dreams. And boy am I thrilled to finally tell you about it!

I played the drums on the main stage of a festival here in the UK. Jimmy’s Festival. My teenage dream finally came true!

You see, I’ve had a love and hate relationship with the drums since my tweens. Aged eleven, I saw Roger Taylor from Queen, having the time of his life on stage. “That’s who I want to be” was my reaction. “I want to be Roger Taylor”. Yep. It’s a bit like saying “I want to be Serena Williams” when you’ve never even picked up a tennis racket. It gives you fantastic drive, but it is a very high aspiration. Roger Taylor rocks!

I was lucky to have admirable parents, who signed me up for lessons, and even let me spend all my savings on my very own Remo Leggero, the “it” kit of the time. You could stack the toms and carry it around on tour, or rather on holidays in my case. The concerts never really came. To be precise, I didn’t seek them out. I was a “closet drummer”, the type that messes up an audition by apologising for playing too loud. And then, one day, a boy might have mentioned I wasn’t keeping time very well, and I might have decided my career as a rock star was doomed. I was fifteen and very sad.

From then, the drums were a thing of the past. In my personal narrative, it all became the rebellious act of an angry teenager. The hours spent practising my paradiddles, double stroke rolls and flamadiddles on my practise pad, on the dashboard of the car, on my reddened knees were summed up as “oh yes, I went through a bit of a funny phase”. I’d made the same decision as far too many of us make as teenagers – “either I do this really well, or I give up.” I gave up.

As teenagers, we often start to think of music as a discipline, as an area where we should excel. In doing so, we just suck all the pleasure out of it. So for years, I stuck to easy listening music. I went to jazz clubs from time to time, but I wasn’t comfortable with live music anymore. My eyes would be drawn to the drums and I’d get a pain in my stomach. I hated drummers, I envied them, terribly.

Even the smallest technical prowess seemed like an unachievable thing to me. I’d watch someone play beautiful fills and I’d feel ashamed at my lack of skills. My thinking was “It’s so unfair. I could never do that. I really want to be able to play that but I never could.” Part of me wanted to wipe the drums from my past. It would be easier to say I didn’t play an instrument than take the risk of being seen as a fraud.

“perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat.” E.Gilbert Tweet This

And yet, being a drummer remained a big part of my identity. When I started making videos, all my edits would be based on rhythm, whether they had music in them or not. That was my basic framework. I would tap a rhythm in my mind and that would be the starting point for a whole video. When I listened to music, I would memorise the lyrics and the drum lines. When I learnt a new language, I would learn the rhythm of words.

It took over sixteen years for me to have a serious conversation about the drums. I was telling a friend about my greatest regrets. High on the list was listening to live music. Living in London, there’s no shortage of it, so my friend asked why I didn’t go to concerts. Suddenly, everything came flooding out. We’d known each other for six years and I’d never mentioned my burning love for the drums. It all came out at once – the desperate desire to play, the feeling I would never be good enough to perform, all the lines I’d memorised. My body tensed up and craved the feeling of sitting on the throne and balancing my four limbs over the cymbals and toms.

The solution was simple. The next day, I sneaked out of the office to buy drum sticks and arranged for a lesson in the evening. And so the adventure began.

“Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

– Steven Pressfield

End of part 1.

I know, I know… when do we get to the part where she plays on the main stage? Stay tuned. I will be back next week! In the meantime, check out the recommended links below.

I’m feeling a bit exposed now, so please be a good sport and let me hear from you:

  • Is there a teenage dream you’ve stacked away so deep you can’t even acknowledge it?
  • Have you recently picked up an old passion and integrated it to your adult life?

If you’ve enjoyed this article and know of anyone who could do with some inspiration, please share the link. I’d be super grateful.

Thank you for reading!

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