Yes, I torture myself. I have been taking voice lessons, singing opera or English art songs with my teacher. I do this because I love to sing and enjoy singing well. The thing is, I have to sing twice a year before a small audience. These recitals are torture. Tonight I had one of those recitals and I was sitting after I finished and wondered, “why do I keep doing this”? The answer came to me quickly. I do this because it is good for me to place myself in fearful situations in order to know how I will handle one if it comes up unexpectedly. No, I do not expect to have an impromptu recital on the street corner by gunpoint, but I do think we learn from these kinds of things and can generalize what we learned into a different situation.
Tonight I was singing and almost cursed at my body for hijacking my song. My lungs refused to fill, my legs shook uncontrollably and my eyes would not focus on my music. I was betrayed. I finished my aria and sat down and began reflecting on why I have done this for 20 some years.
My morning was fairly difficult today. I struggled with feelings of wanting to run away. I realize that it is insecurity. I wanted something to numb that feeling. I just could not get a grip on anything today and someone or something needed to make it feel better. But I never sought that relief out. I trudged through the day (I would so much prefer to say I was mindful and able to rise above my day, but that would be dishonest). I attempted moments of mindfulness and they seemed out of reach. I stepped back, but my thoughts of inferiority took over and I was not able to see why they were playing with me (later on my drive home I did however). I realize that I have learned over the years that even if you are unable to get a grip, you can work with the shaky legs and unwilling lungs. You can find a way to get the job done, albeit not to your complete satisfaction, and move on.
My going to recital teaches me to press forward even when my mind or body is betraying me. I know I can sing that song and make it gorgeous, but not in the same way when under pressure. But because I am practiced at these things, I can make a good effort at it. In the same way, when I am at work and I have an unfamiliar situation, I know I can address the problem, and find a way to make it work. Additionally, I can just make it through a tough day and come out on the other end ready to go back for more tomorrow. Well, maybe after a nap.