Sunday, November 16, 2014

On the Inner Critic

My inner critic is loud, ruthless, heartless, and cruel. She prevents me from accomplishing tasks on a regular basis. I can barely write this now, because she is screaming how pointless it is and shouldn't I be doing something else? Something else that she can criticize me on, something else that is almost impossible to complete because of the deafening screams of this bitch.

"You sound terrible! Shouldn't this piece be faster? Why is your tone "off"? Why are you even playing right now?" I am having a hard time practicing piano because of this inner voice. It seems pointless and my skill so inferior to those of the Masters. I should feel inspired from pieces performed by professionals, but instead I feel hopeless. How will I ever get to be good enough, I wonder, if I can't even practice for more than an hour because I am too busy fielding the doubtful supplications of a non-existent entity? "Ah, you never will be good enough," says this non-entity. "So just stop."

So sit and make a collage, I say. And I try. I flip through magazine after magazine, finding nothing to catch my eye. Whereas sometimes I go through magazines and rip out nearly every page, making up to five collages a day, right now, I make zero. I feel suffocated by the collages of others, jealous of their creativity and production. I ignore the fact that I have made over 120 collages this year alone; the inner critic says that it's not good enough.

Not good enough. That's what I am right now. Or so She says. But I feel helpless against this force and desperate to counteract it anyway I can.

Fortunately, I am writing this right now in order to confront this voice and hopefully overcome its hurtful pleas for me to stop whatever I am doing. This piece is convoluted and chunky, the words are stuck in some far-off place that I can't seem to access. My mind is chalky and clouded, cloaked in the insensitive remarks of some voice that possesses a power over me.

"Go away!" I want to yell. "Let me practice in peace. Let me be mediocre in peace. Let me just BE." But I can't. She is too loud, too persistent, too convincing.

My piano does need more practicing. It isn't up to tempo and I am afraid it never will be. I look at other pieces I used to play and feel remorse. How did I play that, I wonder, how could I once do what is impossible now? My fingers are feeble and I am having a hard time "feeling" the pieces I need to play for an audition in several months. This lack of "feeling" is attributed in part to this inner critic, who tells me again and again, "You're just not good enough."

Just not good enough. So why continue? Why do anything? The "just not good enough" mantra is slowly destroying me and making my beloved goals seem completely insurmountable. I try to work through this voice, try to keep playing in spite of its oft-repeated phrase of not being good enough. But it's hard. I mean, really really hard.

I am hoping this recent bout of the voice's strength will pass and I will be able to love the piano and love making collages freely again. I am hoping that by writing this, I will be able to see and understand this voice more, so that I can overcome it. I don't want to quit playing, I don't want to quit making art, but the critic insists that I must.

The critic insists that my work is pointless, yet if I stop, my life WILL be pointless. I know this, but the critic keeps up its inane chorus of doubt with a vigor I envy. If only I could be as persistent as this voice, all will be well. I don't expect it to go away completely, but I seek what I am lacking right now, which is the persistence of work in spite of the negative influence of this voice.

So maybe after this lousy, no-good piece of writing (I have certainly written better), I will plop myself down at the piano and just play the notes, feeling or no feeling. Just rote playing, because that is all I can grasp at this moment. Maybe I will take that pile of magazines and rip out even the images I am not particularly drawn to, just so I have material to work with at a later date. Maybe I will actually post this blog, with all its imperfections, just to say that I did it and the voice didn't stop me.

Maybe I will embrace my mediocrity with a loud "Fuck You" to this voice. Because even if I really truly am not good enough, all I have is what I have and I have to do SOMEthing with it, whether or not it's good or bad. I will try, I really will. Because trying and failing is better than complete inaction. So I will fail today (and tomorrow and the next day), but I won't give up.