Perfectionism – the wish for everything to be correct or perfect
Perfectionism has long been associated with individuals who fall prey to anorexia nervosa. Whilst I recognise that there will be exceptions to this ‘rule’, I do recognise perfectionistic traits within myself. Throughout my entire life I have been guilty of setting myself unrealistically demanding goals, and tend to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness. I struggle to do anything just for the pleasure of it, and will completely give up on things that I perceive myself to be doing badly. There is no middle ground – I am either good at something and throw myself into it, or I think I’m rubbish at it and don’t do it at all.
Recognising the trait in oneself doesn’t make it easy to change, but it is a first step. I continue to struggle with perfectionistic tendencies and I’m sometimes forced to confront myself. I recently received a very touching message from *Dave Mackin, a man who used to play in the school band alongside me, many moons ago. I’d not heard from him for probably 34 years! I’ve previously mentioned in my blog about how I studied and played music to quite a high level, before giving it up completely once my confidence was eroded. Dave’s recent message had quite an impact on me and I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing it:
“Hiya Bev. Hope you are well. I was talking to your sister last night at our gig. I was telling her about a song we wrote when we were 18 and we’ve just recorded the full album as homage to Darren, who died in 1990. He was our keyboard player and we have kept all the keyboard parts faithful to how he played them. I sent a copy to Trevor Horn and he invited me to his house in London to chat about it. He loved it and gave me loads of fantastic advice on how to release it. We are releasing it officially in May. One of the songs has a loosely referenced element in it about you and I thought you might like to hear it. Ian and I wrote a song called Broken Musicians about people who for whatever reason stop playing. The last verse is Dixie’s a girl with a trumpet of gold. I remember at the time of writing the song I was worried about you as you were going through health problems and things. You were the best trumpet and cornet player in our area by miles and you taught me loads just sitting next to you. Its great to see you are ok and life is good. I often saw your sisters and your Mam about but as I hadn’t seen you in years was always to wary to ask them how you were. When you popped up on the Band reunion things I was so pleased to see you were alive and well. I went back to South Bank Brass Band a few years ago to get my lips back into shape and its best thing I’ve done in years. Lynn, James and Paul and Gillian are all in it. Its brilliant crack. If there is a band down your neck of the woods you can get involved in I would really recommend it. Here’s a copy of the song. I just thought I better tell this very influential lady about it. Take care. Dave.x”
The song to which he was referring had even more of impact, and I still can’t listen to it without shedding tears. It seemed that my life was summed up in the verse of a song written almost before it (my life) had begun. The song is entitled “Broken Musicians – a song of broken dreams”, and the line loosely referring to me goes like this:
“Dixie’s a girl with a trumpet of gold. She growls it hot, she plays it bold. She knows her tricks and she’s learnt her trade, but she’s never around when the money is made. She’s playing second to them all, but they stand around to watch her fall….”
I received this message whilst on holiday, so I had plenty of time to think about things. Giving up music all those years ago hadn’t really been given much thought – I’d just done it. I didn’t just give up playing either, I gave up everything to do with music – even listening to it. I was aware that I had done a similar thing with running. Having been a pretty decent runner before falling pregnant with my second child, I was struggling to get back to a level I found acceptable and had been avoiding races for 4 years. As I looked back over my life I could see a similar pattern emerging throughout. It was a wake up call.
Luckily, I had only given up racing and hadn’t given up running altogether. I ran every day whilst on holiday, and I enjoyed every run. In the last couple of months I have completed 2 half marathons and enjoyed doing so, and tomorrow I am doing another. I have set myself some running goals – hopefully not too high, and I almost bought a cornet last week. Watch this space!
* Dave Mackin plays with The Beer Pigs and their album, which includes the song ‘Broken Musicians’, is due for release in June 2017.