Letter to 17-year-old me
Dear 17-year-old me,
This year will be tough on you, but you will get through it. Life problems will come up at really inconvenient times, but you are strong. You’re almost at the end of school, and you feel so mature, and that you know who you are. I know you hate to hear it, but you really are so young, and you still have so much to learn.
1. Stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve. You want to be a musician, so stop stressing about the ATAR and your psychology and English exams, and spend more time practicing and getting better at ear training. You won’t regret it.
2. Let go of your unrealistic life timeline expectations. They’re stopping you from learning about yourself. I know you want to go to University, then do Honours, Masters, study overseas and get a job. But life isn’t that simple, and doing that would be a mistake. You will lose plenty of auditions, won’t be at the top of your class, and need to put life before music. It is more important to spend time figuring out your strengths and weaknesses, your more specific interests, and the reasons why you want to do those things than rushing life.
3. Stop caring about what other people think. Those little recordings you’ve been doing at home? Do more of them, and share them with the world. There are so many other musicians out there who will be inspired by your creations, and can offer support and constructive feedback. Sure, you will get a few mean comments, but the kind ones far outweigh them. Plus, these recordings will teach you so much about your own practice, and what you need to work on.
4. Stop putting yourself down. Sure, there probably are better year 12 clarinet players out there. But you have worked your butt off to improve so much in such a short amount of time. Those 2 auditions you will fail this year really mean nothing, because they don’t know how far you have come. You are a good player, and will get to where you need to be, so accept those compliments!
5. Trust your gut. Those doubts you have about him, listen to them. Don’t make excuses for him just because you’re scared of being alone. You deserve better than that, and will find so much better.
6. Be patient. You won’t have perfect tone and technique in a year. You will get to uni and realise your finger position is a mess, and you don’t know the meaning of air support. These things take time, and that’s okay. You are already improving so much, even though you don’t realise it. Your amazing teacher also was at your point once. It’s all part of the journey.
7. Learn to say no. I know you want to make everyone happy, but you can’t. If a performance brings you no value, say no. If you’re too busy, say no. If you don’t want to catch up with someone, say no. You don’t need an excuse, and you will be so much happier.
8. You will make mistakes. Everyone does. You will overcommit yourself, double book yourself on multiple occasions, and work way too much at your part-time job. Don’t be hard on yourself. You will learn from these mistakes, and become a better and happier person.
9. You are stronger than you think. You will get heart-broken so badly you won’t be able to get out of bed. You will fail an audition for your dream job, and burst into tears in front of your old teacher. Your closest friend will doubt you. But you will get up from all of these, and keep going. And that is all that is important. So take the risk. What is the worst that can happen?
10. You are so young. You will get told just before you graduate that you will learn who you are in University, your values, what you want to be etc. You will shrug it off because you know you want to be a woodwind doubler and teacher. This will change. You will fail so many auditions for orchestras, teaching jobs and performance jobs, but life goes on. Stay true to your values and goals, and you will be fine.