I sat down at the piano. My fingers were dripping with sweat, and my teeth were chattering. I felt like I was going to vomit. I turned my head to look at the audience. I saw the blinding spotlights instead. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. I-
“Julia! Are you ok?”
“Get an ambulance! Quickly!”
I woke up in a hospital. At least, I thought it was a hospital. I couldn’t see anything except blotchy spots of white. I lifted my head up, and I saw someone that looked like a doctor. I looked to my other side and saw my family.
“Hi. I’m Dr. Akshara. I’m going to help you get through this, ok?”
I tried to talk. I whispered, “Get through what?”
“Oh. Well, your anxiety troubles, of course.”
“Yes. Now, I’m going to tell you all some bad news. Julia should not play the piano ever again.”
I broke the awkwardness by saying, “Why not?”
“Your brain connects piano to anxiety. Playing the piano will increase your anxiety, rather than decrease it. So, I highly suggest you start a new instrument.”
After some more silence, my parents simultaneously said, “Ok. Thank you very much.”
After getting home, I ran up to my room and slammed the door. I did like piano. I just had stage fright. Also, I didn’t want to start from scratch again. But, I knew that my parents are going to be insistent. My mom had wanted me to learn the violin from the very beginning, because it was a family tradition. I was so exhausted from all the drama.
The next day, as expected, my mom woke me up bright and early to try out the violin. I groaned and rolled around in bed. I didn’t want to learn the violin, and I’d never been an “early bird gets the worm” type of person. After ten minutes of being lazy, I finally got out of bed. I brushed my teeth and showered for a very long time. Then, I went downstairs. Again, as expected, my mom was waiting for me with her violin. She said, “Julia, I know you’re really sad that you can’t play the piano, but you have to move on. The violin is a very fun instrument too!”
“Ok, Mom. You don’t need to persuade me that much.”
I was in a very bad mood, and my mom is not helping matters.
“Now, I’m going to play a little song for you. Then, I’ll help you learn it!”
“Am I going to get a real teacher anytime soon?”
“I can teach you the basics, and then we can get a teacher. Now, stop stalling. Are you ready?”
My mom played a violin song. Frankly, it sounded really good. But, I knew that I wasn’t going to sound like that anytime soon.
“I understand. You’re good. I’m not. Now, please just teach me the notes.”
“Julia. I’m trying to be patient with you, but I don’t like all the attitude. Now, if you don’t want to learn right now, then please go upstairs.”
I took a deep breath. I knew that I would have to start a new instrument, and my mom was just trying to help.
“Ok, Mom. I’m ready to learn.”
After 10 days, I had learned enough to play a few basic songs. I worked deliberately and hard, because I wanted to get good at the violin.
After 3 months, I was good enough to have a teacher.
After 1 year, I was ready to take the Level 1 test for the violin. There were 10 tests for each instrument. I had been taking the Level 7 test in piano when I had had my panic attack. I was determined not to make the same mistakes in violin. When I sat down to practice, I took a deep breath and told myself that there was no pressure. I didn’t have to be the best in the world in violin.
After 4 years, I had hit a setback. It was the 3rd time that I was trying to succeed in the Level 4 test, and I was stressed. My doctor told me it was bad for me to get anxious, but I couldn’t stop. What if I failed? What would happen? Would people mock me? I was scared.
I decided to take a break for a few months and get my thoughts back in the right place. It was a good idea, because after those few months, I felt like a different person. I wasn’t worried anymore, and I was ready to take on the world! I started to ask myself a crucial question. What would happen if I messed up? Nothing. Nothing at all.
With this mindset, I cruised past the 4th, 5th and 6th level tests. By this time, I was in 10th grade. I had a lot going on, and I didn’t know if I could continue with violin. But, I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. After I had stopped having such horrible stage fright, the violin had become so much more enjoyable. After a stressful day at school, the first thing I did was play my violin. It was a stress remover, rather than a stress maker.
I passed the 7, 8, and 9th levels by 12th grade. But, the problem was that I was going to college the next year, so I wouldn’t be able to pass levels anymore. I only had one chance to pass the Level 10 test before leaving. This was a lot of stress. My doctor advised me not to take the test. My parents said I could do what my heart told me to. My heart told me to try for the Level 10 test.
I passed on the 1st try.
“Hi, my name’s Julia. 20 years ago, I had a panic attack while playing the piano. My doctor told me to try a different instrument. So, I did. I started playing the violin. I thrived in it, because I had adopted a new mindset. I wasn’t scared of what people thought of me anymore. I just wanted to say that playing an instrument should not be a burden. That’s what I did wrong in piano. It should be something that you can let out all your anger with. Today, I am a doctor. But, I also give concerts for the violin too. I have learned that being a doctor is a lot of hard work. It also is a very demanding job. My way of letting out all the stress and anxiety is playing the violin. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy my concert.”
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You asked me for feedback, so here I am, belatedly. This story is so courageous! In that I love how Julia comes through her fear and anxiety and steps into her own courage: I can tell that even though her mother was pressuring her at first, she really grows into the instrument and therefore herself. You set the stage in a great way and describe her panic attack vividly. I can visualize it and also feel as though I am experiencing it, too. I think there are only a few problems here. One, dialogue. On the page it sounds a little awkward, a...
Thank you so much for the feedback, Zilla! I'm really happy that you liked it. I will definitely keep those 2 points in mind when I am writing my next stories. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read it!
Great story! Maybe instead of FLASHBACK and PRESENT DAY, it might have been better if you had the story start with present-day and then go into flashback. Like, you could have started with "I hope you enjoy my concert", and then into the flashback. Or, you could have started with a musical piece (or how you were playing or applause or something like that). The character might have won a contest and she's giving an interview. In the interview, she goes into her flashback. I wouldn't mind if you also started with the present, went to the fl...
Haha, no, you're not confusing me:) Thanks for the feedback! I will definitely keep that in mind. Thanks for taking the time to read my story!
Hi everyone! I hope you enjoy this story! Any feedback would be awesome. Thanks!