Offbeat

via Daily Prompt: Heal

She fixed her gaze on the tattered drum sticks she has been holding on her hands. She snickered sardonically, followed by tears, streaming down her eyes.

It was rather impulsive, how it all started. On her way back to her shoe box of an apartment, she discovered the building next to the printing service was no longer vacant. Three men were moving in some musical instruments to the three-storey building, and she suddenly felt a tap on her shoulder. It was the owner-slash-teacher, being friendly as he handed her a brochure to ask if she’d be interested to try out any musical instrument on the next 4 weeks for free. Thinking it’s a good chance to find a new hobby to get her mind out of work, she agreed.

After the second week, she was pretty convinced she wanted to learn how to play the drum. Other than having puddings for dessert after every meal, playing the drum also was as much as a childhood dream she wanted to fulfill. For the first time in her life, she enrolled to a class voluntarily–even spent some money from her own pocket for it.

She had no idea when in the timeline that it became more serious and less a hobby than she initially planned it to be. But it probably started on her fourth month, where she felt she has invested quite enough for her to be decent on playing simple, slow beats.

Never had she felt such competitiveness and ambition coming from her own self; but maybe that was residue of a family-imposed habit that for decades had unconsciously shaped her: to excel at everything you are responsible of.

It doesn’t help that she hasn’t eased in well with the new job she took just a couple of months before she took the drum lessons. Many a days, she looked to the mirror every morning, only to feel like she was just playing dress-up, just to look professionally acceptable enough. Many a times, she was unable to get proper sleep as she mulled over the things she “should” sweat over: Did I offend the coworker by being outspoken? Did I threw off the boss by pointing out where the project currently lacks? Did he take it too personally? Did I email the counterparts as properly as expected? 

Surely, having this determination to do the best was definitely a value one would think is appropriate to teach the kids. But not so much when it was oriented mainly towards the result, and not the process. Not to mention that it builds this perception that she could do anything as long as she tried hard enough.

Eight months in and she still cannot get a hang out of a basic 4/4 rock beat.

It strikes her that she was probably just not good at this particularly; she could just learn a lot of other stuff quicker than this. It shouldn’t bruise her ego or anything. But every time she missed a beat, it hurt her. It left her as frigid as much as every time she saw the disappointed look in her supervisor’s eyes, telling that her thoughts and actions didn’t reflect the best interest of the company.

No one could be any more dismissive to someone past their mid-twenties and them being a klutz. It’s just, how do they call it, “too much”.

As her tears dried, she stood up, grabbed her jacket and walked across the street to see if she can still catch her tutor before he closed the place for the day. Since she cannot just terminate her contract with the company, she decided to spare herself from the growing sense of self-inflicted inadequacy that might just push her to the brink of despair. Thank God refusing to give up out of the fear of “losing” to oneself has begun to sound ridiculous in her head.

He was just locking the doors to leave when she called out to him and say she’d like a break. She was waiting for a barrage of “Why?” or “Oh, don’t give up just yet!” coming from him, only to be welcome by a simple, “Sure. That’s okay.” She felt foolish for thinking a teacher would keep a student without talent or any form of progress, but then he beat that thought off of her head by saying, “Drop by again sometimes, though. There are only guitar classes on Thursdays, so if you miss having a bit of practice, you can just go to the classroom and try out some beats yourself.” She welcomed the gesture and muttered him a small thanks as he shrugged it off and waved her good night.

She was quite glad that she could let go of one burden and possibly revisit it as a hobby in the near future. But mostly, she was glad that she tried.

If only the same can be said for the job. But of course, that’s exactly why it would never cease being a little– how should one call it?–“too much”.

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