Thursday, 28 June 2012

Confident or delusional?

There is a fine line between being confident and being delusional. As I child I loathed the Olympics because I could not see that those athletes were any better than me. Wearing a leotard and doing a wonky cartwheel or roller skating down the driveway in a tutu made me feel graceful, talented, every bit as good as the gymnasts and ice skaters I saw on telly. No matter how my parents tried to explain that those people had trained for hours a day for years to be able to do that I just went, “Pfffft. I could do that.”
the junior Olympic team at work
Clearly just wearing a tutu does not make you an Olympic skater, but somehow the tutu transformed me (in my mind) from a scabby kneed girl to a beautiful, graceful athlete. Same with the leotard. I can recall on a separate incident that I could not effectively clean house without a bandana tied on my head a la Aunt Jemima. The right clothes can make you feel the part.

I am sure my family would have called me delusional, but I called it an unwavering confidence in my grace and beauty and talent.

What I *feel* like
what I *actually* sound like


Cut to today. I am a self taught ukulele player. I adore playing with all my heart and when I’m alone in our bedroom plinky-plinking away I feel like a rock goddess—like Joan Jett if she were to be a ukulele player.  I rock out on the ukulele—which you can do more than you realize. I enjoy playing and singing along to familiar songs, I enjoy the challenge of learning a difficult chord (although I am prone to wimping out and just subbing in a chord that it easier and fairly close to the actual chord--my theory is a ukulele always sounds  slightly out of tune so I hope these substitutions are less noticeable) I take great pride in the calluses on 3 of my fingers and often pretend to be Bryan Adams in the summer of ’69 and hum to myself, “played it ‘til my fingers bled” after a long plinky-plink session where my calluses all have a groove in them from pressing on the strings.

The reality is I have lots of confidence when I play for myself.  But I struggle to play for others as I realize that the vision of me as rock goddess are less than true and when others are listening I become nervous and make more mistakes. The truth is--I will never be truly great at this no matter how much I practice. That’s not running myself down, that’s just honest. Strumming is hard for me to keep a consistent up and down rhythm and after a year is showing few signs of improving with practice. My friend Clare describes the movement you need to do for strumming as “lazy handjob.”  There is--and perhaps always will be--a 3 second pause before I play the chord Em as I have to look at my fingers to get them into the correct place. I am not delusional, I know exactly how I sound when plinky-plinking away like a mad woman. But somehow knowing I am just average doesn’t knock my confidence--at least when I am alone--because I really enjoy playing.

My goals are to feel like I’m wearing the tutu--and by that I mean do it in front of God and everyone and even if I fall and skin my knee I still feel beautiful and graceful and talented.




  1. oh yessss, I remember the Olympics hissy fit well. I think you took after your grandmother Sweetie on the "Pfffft" part.

    Thanks for the ukelele tunes for my birthday. I love them intensely.

  2. My husband bought me a uke last Christmas. I am also a proud self taught plinky-plinker! I wish you lived closer, we could jam! I absolutely love, found tons of songs and you can transpose songs to a key that has chords you know. Happy plinkin'!