I had the unparalleled embarrassment and joy of watching a video of myself from 7 years ago the other day. A dear friend of mine and I made the decision, as second year university students, at one o’clock in the morning, to film a video letter for our future selves.
You can imagine the cringe factor.
But it was also a special opportunity. To look back at myself, who, being overtired, was being brutally honest about everything I said, and consider who I was, who I am now, and who I am becoming.
When I started studying composition, we had a very difficult project. A solo woodwind piece in ‘moment form’, which, if you’ve never heard of it, is a musical form that requires no moment to be in any way related to another. For 19-year-olds who previously just wrote to please themselves, I have to say, it was a shock to the system. We all hated it.
What followed over the next year was a series of projects that asked for everything that we didn’t want to write. It was hard work, saved only by the fact that we had one or two free choice pieces. By the end of that year, however, it’s safe to say that I felt well and truly lost about the music that I wrote. I didn’t understand what I liked anymore, what I wanted to make, or how to do it. What I did have, however, was high-level working strategies and challenges that extended my understanding beyond anything I ever expected.
Looking back, I can see what the course was designed to do. It pushed and pulled me out of myself, then challenged me to find the way back. And to get back, I needed to navigate how to bring everything I had learnt with me.
Watching the video of 19-year-old me was special, because I can see that what I valued then, I value still, but I do a better job of valuing it.
I forgot, for a few years, what I valued as a creative person. I was pushed and pulled out of myself; I had to find a way back. I’m back now. With so much more to bring to my craft than I had before.
My 19-year-old self was intense, determined and ridiculously stubborn. I am still all of those things, though with a pinch of maturity thrown in. But remembering that I have always been that, that I have always loved the craft I am pursuing, has sparked such joy in my heart. I have grown up, I have changed. But I am still me. Remembering myself has made me more determined than ever to finish what I started.
So here’s a challenge to all you creatives. When you feel far away from your creativity, when you’re thinking of leaving it behind, remember yourself. Remember your heart and your passions. Sometimes you might be pulled so far away from them you think that you’ve forgotten them; but you haven’t. Not really.
All you have to do is find your way back.