To the person who feels stuck in limbo,
This past year I’ve gained an important skill, and that is patience. I would imagine that if you ask anyone what skills a music therapist needs, many would include patience as one of them, as something that is “already a given”, which is something I thought as well. But now the skill of patience has a new meaning. Not only should a person have patience and compassion when working with vulnerable persons but they also need to have that for themselves.
To be patient with yourself is to know that even if you don’t succeed the first time it doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough. To be patient with yourself means to give yourself all the time you need to have personal growth and insight. To be patient with yourself means to gain experience by doing things that make you happy and not doing them because they’ll give you a “leg up” against someone else who is also trying to be the best that they can be.
It has only been a year since I last applied to grad school for music therapy and the person I was then in comparison to the person I am now is shocking, maybe not to others but definitely to myself. If you were to have seen me last spring I would have been in tears wondering why I wasn’t good enough despite all the skills I had. I would have questioned why other applicants were seen as superior to me rather than focusing on how I can work on myself, not to have leverage but to become even more insightful and gain meaningful experiences. I didn’t know why I was in such a rush to be a music therapist. I was 22 thinking I’m late to start my career and feeling like a failure because all my peers were going places. I was scared of “nothing” in a sense that I felt that there was nothing going for me. But it wasn’t until now that I finally felt like I overcame that period of limbo.
When you feel stuck it’s incredibly difficult to take the first step because you don’t know what’s on the other side of “nothingness”.
I wouldn’t say that I am now a “new” person, just… an improved version of myself. I’m still a quirky person riddled with anxiety. Just a more confident one. I don’t see myself any different but the way I carry myself and the way I talk about myself has changed. Before I would always refer to myself in a negative light and that’s not to say I don’t feel these awful thoughts now and again but this time I treat myself nicer. I talk about myself in a more positive light. I use more positive words to fuel that positive energy. Less maybes and more “when I get to” and “I am going to”.
I feel accomplished not only because I finally got into grad school but because I know that on top of working hard to get here I will be able to take care of myself when it comes time for me to move away from familiarity and into a place full of the unknown.
I would like to reiterate that this didn’t come to me in a day or in a month. I felt this vindication a year later and these feelings were even before I received my acceptance letter and that’s how I knew that I grew -- when I didn’t need any affirmation from anyone to know that I became someone who had developed patience. This was all because I decided to get help (with the help of others) when I didn’t feel that I was worth anything. This was because I decided to try something new and taking opportunities when they arose. This was being taken advantage of and saying no. This was because I needed to figure out what my drive was and how I’m going to impact the community positively.
It is such an odd thing where we have all the time in the world for other people who need us most and yet we have no time allocated for ourselves -- we are part of those people who need us most. Take all the time you need to get to where you want to be. Patience starts with being kind to yourself.
Author: Wen Xian Jennifer Lin, Concordia University, GrDip Music Therapy Student, Honours BMus (Music Cognition), Performance Diploma