Muted: The Day I Stopped Playing Violin

Muted: The Day I Stopped Playing Violin


The day I stopped playing violin I thought I could never smile again.

It was tragic.

It was surreal.

It was my worst nightmare unleashed.

Imagine giving up something that you’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into. Something that makes you feel beautiful, strong, and powerful. A career opportunity, a passion, and a part of you that you never imagined could stop being a part of you.

It was devastating.

I stopped when my practice became too intense, and I injured myself beyond recovery.

My orchestra conductor used to tease us saying, "Practice until your fingers bleed." Could I ever imagine that too much practice would lead to such a detrimental estate? Before my injury, I was at the point in my musical journey when my instrument had become an extension of my body.

It moved when I moved,

breathed when I breathed,

and served as my fountain of my emotional expression.

So what happens when you stop playing an instrument? Not by choice, but by force.

When a doctor tells you to stop playing because the intensity is too much for your body?

Let's just say I cried every day for three years.

Night after night I sifted through memories, longing to hold my beloved instrument again. I would rub my thumb against my soft, fleshy fingers and sigh in dismay that my calluses from playing were gone.

It felt like I was in a movie, one of those dramas about someone who gets injured and has to overcome it to pursue their passion.

But my reality was not stuff of fiction.

So, I sulked, and depression got its way. And, every moment I spent longing for my violin again I lost sight of what was in front of me now.

The day I regained a smile was the day I realized it was my choice to either move on or linger in the past.

I was sitting in the prayer chapel at my university. Snow fell outside and I watched it descend in huge wet flakes. My face too was wet with tears. I cried long and hard, hoping God would take pity on me and restore my ability to play music.

It was in this moment I heard beside me the tears of someone else. She was just across the wall in the next prayer room sobbing quietly. I held my breath and listened to her. All at once my sorrows seemed to melt like the falling flakes. And I wanted to go in and put my arms around her. What did it matter that I was suffering when so many others were suffering too? What was I doing wasting time with pity parties for myself when I could be sharing my story and encouraging other people to be strong.

A few months laters I was eating vanilla ice cream in the cafeteria with my friend Jana who was telling me about her new faith in God. When I explained to her my battle with depression and longing to play music again, she noticed my eyes brimming with tears.

"Julia," she said, setting down her spoon and smiling. "Have you ever considered the years God did let you play music? Aren't you thankful that He allowed you so many years to enjoy that?"

She was right. From ages six to 18 I was able to enjoy hours of practice and performance. My tears retracted as her words sunk in and helped me see that sometimes when life doesn’t go the way we planned, we begin to waste precious hours wishing it was different. Or running in the wrong direction trying to retrieve what we’ve lost.

I’m not saying life is easy without playing violin, and I’m not saying I’ve given up hope of playing again. But it’s better to live in the present than in the past. Don't be like me and squander three years of your life wishing things were better. Count your blessings now and your blessings then.

Cover Image Credit: Pexel

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Origin Of Life

A small theory for a very big thing.

One of the most controversial topics to ever face the humans on earth: The origin of life. There are so many different ideas and theories to support, however I’m going to discuss it purely based on scientific research.

It’s estimated that the Earth was formed around 4.5 billion years ago. This estimate comes from measuring the ages of the oldest rocks on Earth, along with the ages of moon rocks and meteorites, from a process called radioactive dating (which means the decay of radioactive isotopes is used to calculate the time of the rocks creation). I would go more into this process, however there’s a lot to discuss about the origin of life, and not rocks.

Imagine this: Earth as we know it now, except back then it’s literally a bunch of flaming rocks. There’s this ball of flaming rocks, and it’s constantly being hit with more, you guessed it, flaming rocks (can also be called meteors). Just a little fact, one of the meteors that hit “earth” hit it so well that the moon was created due to the amount of debri flying around in earth’s orbit. Another little fact, some of those meteors that were plummeting into earth actually contained H20 (water)! There’s now steam in the atmosphere and the temperature is cooling, resulting in an actual ground instead of hot lava. However, the ground doesn’t last long for there’s a lot, i repeat a lot of rain that occurs, therefore creating an ocean. However fear not, land does come back, and with that, we have an earth that is more familiar to us. But wait! Where’s the life? That’s where this origin of life theory i’m going to discuss comes in.

While it’s still not known for sure how life came to be, there is one theory that stands out. During the 1920s, Russian scientist Aleksandr Oparin and English scientist J. B. S. Haldane both (separately) proposed what's now called the Oparin-Haldane hypothesis: life on Earth could have arisen step-by-step from non-living matter through a process of “gradual chemical evolution.” Oparin and Haldane theorized that the early Earth had a reducing atmosphere, meaning an oxygen-poor atmosphere in which molecules are able and tend to donate electrons. Under these conditions, simple inorganic molecules (that traveled from a meteor) could have reacted (with energy from lightning or the sun) to form building blocks such as acids and nucleotides, which could have accumulated in the oceans, making a "primordial soup." The building blocks (monomers) could have combined in further reactions, forming larger, more complex molecules (polymers) like proteins and nucleic acids. The polymers then could have assembled into units or structures that were capable of sustaining and replicating themselves. Oparin thought these might have been “colonies” of proteins clustered together to carry out metabolism, while Haldane suggested that macromolecules became enclosed in membranes to make cell-like structures.

And there you have it, a origin of life theory. While there are many others to discuss, this one made sense to discuss just due to the fact that it kind of covers everything. Now with this gained knowledge, go forth and research more!

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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I Refuse To Apologize For Putting My Mental Health Before My Education

It's OK to not be OK.

I’ve been in college for a long time now. By the time I receive my undergraduate degree I will be 24 going on 25. Some days I think about this and I feel defeated, like I’m far behind where I wanted to be in my life. Then I remember why I’m so far behind and I feel a little bit better about it.

I’ve struggled with various mental illnesses for a large portion of my life. Over the past 10 years at least. It’s been a daily struggle and somedays I can get out of bed and face the day and be perfectly fine, but there are days when I can’t function. AND THAT’S OKAY.

I used to beat myself up for missing a class or having to call into work because I just couldn’t do life that day. As I’ve gotten older I’ve let myself realize that you have to take care of yourself in whatever way works for you. If that means that you have to stay in bed for three days and sleep, then do that and when you feel more yourself face the world and get your life together.

Mental health days have proven to be so important to my life and successfully functioning as a part of society. Yes, maybe it’s taken me a bit longer to get through certain parts of my life, but I’ve moved at a pace that works for me and when I’m finally finished with this chapter of my life I’ll be able to say that I came out happy and healthy and functional.

College is hard. It’s hard for healthy people and it’s definitely hard for those who struggle with any sort of illness, mental or physical.

Over the past 10 years I have come to terms with what my illnesses mean. I can’t be like everyone else all the time and I can’t just pretend everything is fine. The more I tried to ignore my problems, the larger my problems became. In this case ignorance IS NOT bliss, it’s a death sentence.

Everyone in this world will struggle with something at some point in their life and if you’re anything like me you’ll put on a brave face and say that you’re fine…for a while. But there is no shame in not being okay. You can’t be okay all that time. To quote my favorite show, Grey’s Anatomy, “Not everybody has to be happy all the time. That’s not mental health; that’s crap!”

Take that day off. Stay in bed. Eat that junk food that you never let yourself have. Cry. Scream. Drive until you don’t remember why you weren’t okay in the first place. Do whatever it is you need to do to feel okay (within reason. Please don’t do anything unhealthy). Accept that it is okay not to be okay and show the world that, yeah maybe you’re a hot mess, but you’re handling it and you’ll come out better than ever because you took the time to sort out your crap and maintain your mental health instead of rushing through it to please society.

So maybe I’ll be in my 30’s before I finish school, but that’s okay because I’m healthy-ish, I’m happy-sorta, and I did what I needed to do to succeed in my own life and I refuse to apologize for that.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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