I didn’t go to university. Instead I attended the School of Life specializing in the elusive subject of “experience”. I say elusive because, while a degree gives the impression of knowledge and ability, I have this theory that – the 10,000 hours rule aside – we can always gain more experience in our fields. Anyway, I digress.
After landing a job as a travel agent in Auckland, I quit after fourteen months to become a full time musician/songwriter/busker, and quickly learned the realities of the music scene in New Zealand – the hard work, the dedication, the practice, the sexism, the male dominance (seriously, the number of people who would always be surprised that the evenings entertainment would be female… with clothes!… and SOMEONE WHO’S GOOD??!!), the booking agents, drunk people, hecklers, the money handling – and getting taken for granted… I learned a lot.
I also learned about what, and who I thought I should be; and reveled in rebuking that – to a degree. I’ve always refused to be the “pretty girl”. I’ve never been particularly PC, and if you say something disrespectful, damn straight I’ll say something (which always fascinated me, because the moment I spoke up about being disrespected, or objectified, I was called a bitch for holding my own… ahhh, how perfect). One thing I couldn’t ever really shake, however, was the other more subtle “lessons” that life likes to throw at us. Like, how NOT to date asshole men, under the falsehood that I could help them; or how NOT to bend over backwards for people because apparently I’m just that fucking flexible; or how NOT to feed into the brainwashing bullshit of having the ideal body.
Last year I developed a fear of food; I was so petrified of eating a piece of fruit for fear of the sugar adding to my waistline. I would get hit on by men I felt were way out of my league because I was all of a sudden down to a size 6 (I wasn’t even that skinny when I was a homeless, drug addict teenager… I was 25 ffs). I would get compliments on how good I looked by people who had no idea the number of pills I was popping every day in order to keep my metabolism high, my vitamin and mineral intake stable, my hormones relatively normal… all under the illusion of “health” and “well-being”.
My soul wasn’t healthy.
As much of a bonehead as my ex is, I’ll give him one thing; at least he helped convinced me to start eating normally again, as did one of my bestie’s Rawinia – but I still get scared.
Scared that my physical state is going to dictate my direction and success.
Scared that the School of Life won’t supply me with the correct readings to deal with the blatant sexism and judgments that come with being a female musician.
Scared that what society deduces not just me to, but the entire world down to, is based purely on what we look like
Because apparently that’s all we’re worth.
Tonight I went on a chick date with a woman I know only from social media. She’s the best friend of one of my best friends, and she was described to me as “fucking boss”. Pretty succinct description, really (though I’d like to add that she is one of the most down to earth, opinionated, strong and beautiful spirits I’ve met in a long time). One of the biggest things that stuck out to me, however, relates back to the School of Life. Because while one can get a university education, a formal education system doesn’t come with life skills. It doesn’t teach confidence. And it sure as hell doesn’t teach you to honour, love and respect yourself – pie or no pie.
So here I am; challenging myself to continue on to the next phase of this life education – where I can learn to love, respect, and value myself – my full self – for more than just my lumps, humps and bumps…
… but for my strength, my muscle, my assertiveness, my 10,000 hours of musical skill and knowledge, my ever increasing confidence, and my knowledge that EVERYONE is fighting some sort of demon of self.
I just need to master mine now.