on “ding” letters and failure

I just received my “ding” letter in the mail concerning my violin audition in February, which I have to admit, was depressing.

I mean, I knew it was coming- my audition felt like completing a maze blindfolded. In other words, I messed up and my audition was a nightmare right from my 3-octave scale.

In fact, my inner critic was sounding the failure alarm so loudly that I could barely focus. It got so bad that about four minutes in, I found myself stopping and restarting phrases in my unaccompanied Bach and rushing more and more over panicked, incorrect rhythms in the concerto.

Afterwards, I felt like a failure: I had failed, and I was a failure. I wasn’t good enough. There was no way I could (truly) keep playing in college. My violin days were over.

And then, I took the panic blindfold off: I didn’t make it through the maze, but I had tried. I had failed, but I’m not a failure. I just need to try harder- my playing’s not there yet, but it will be.

When I looked at the audition without the panic blindfold on, I realized that I had grown as a person (and violinist) in a couple of ways:

  1. I could look at the situation objectively and pinpoint exactly where I panicked and why
  2. I could name specific strengths and weaknesses about my playing in the audition
  3. I recognized that I could and showed determination to get better.
  4. I no longer equated failing something with being a “failure” of a person

I realize that ultimately, my ding letter isn’t so bad.

It’s just made me realize how much I truly want to get better at violin.

And macroscopically, my nightmarish, blindfolded maze audition has helped me realize that there are some legitimate benefits to (hard-earned/ UNintentional) failure:

  1. motivated to try harder
  2. learn how to get better
  3. some bars will give you a free beer*

*for a “ding” letter, and of course, assuming you’re of drinking age

here it is… the “ding” letter!

PS- here’s an awesome comic called “Be Friends with Failure”!

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