There Is Nothing Wrong With Picking Up An Old Talent

There Is No Shame In Losing A Talent, Or Picking It Back Up Again

"You are still smart, talented, and all those wonderful things you were before you stopped."

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I started playing the piano at the age of five. I grew up listening to my mother play hymns and musical theater numbers, and so I was destined to do the same. I took lessons from the same teacher my mother had, continuing a legacy of music. I wasn't like my friends who took piano lessons for two years and then moved on to something else. I competed in hymn festivals, solo festivals, theory competitions and talent concerts. I won awards and high ratings for most of them. (Here is video proof if you don't believe me.) I loved it for thirteen years.

Then, my sophomore year, I went through a rough period in my personal life. I lost interest in practicing, and soon after, performing. When my family and I moved overseas during my junior year, I stopped training altogether.

I am now in my sophomore year of college, and while I still enjoy music as a dance major, I have not consistently played the piano since I quit training. Every once in a while I'll take a few hours and sit down with a sonatina to see if I can still recognize the melodies or the format, but nothing beyond that. Today, someone asked me to play "Happy Birthday" for our Music Fundamentals professor. I could see in my head what chords should be played, but when I went to translate that into my fingers, it came out all wrong. I couldn't find the chord progressions and the harmonies were atrocious. All of the people in that room knew that I had come from a classically trained background, and I had just completely embarrassed myself. I felt like I would never hold any validity as a musical person again.

After taking a few moments to breathe and discontinue my self-loathing, I thought about the way I was treating myself.

I would never be this hard on anyone else about messing up. So, I began to talk to myself the way I would talk to a good friend.

"You have not played piano for quite some time. It's normal that you wouldn't be great at it right now."

"If you want to re-explore this talent that you do still have, you can! But you don't have to. It's up to you."

"You still have a musical background that serves you well to this day in other ways than concert piano. That matters!"

I would extend this self-advice to anyone else who has a rusty talent in their closet. You are still smart, talented, and all those wonderful things you were before you stopped. You are still valid. Perhaps your talent does not serve you in the same way that it used to, but I can guarantee that it has shaped you into the person you are today. We all go through different seasons of life that change what we are good at or what we are interested in, so there is no reason to feel shame or sadness over it. Pick it back up if you want to, and if you don't, find something else you enjoy more! Life would be super boring if we did the same thing for 80+ years anyway.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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