This is what I do when I am too sick to go anywhere. I stay home and write.
For those of you who have read Pretty Good For A Girl… (Sarah and Sara), the new one is on gender, creativity and anxiety. I cannot find my copy of the Pretty Good For A Girl… that I have; do you think that this (below) is appropriate?
Everybody else… feel free to ignore this. It is just something I wrote for a friend\’s zine, and I am so anxious about it that I am probably going to write about four or five other things before I decide which one to go with. I have until late September.
When we develop from children, we start pure and untainted. We think we can do anything. Can we draw? Of course. We can also sing, dance, run, paint, play guitar, build with our blocks. We create. We do not identify what we do with our gender. We do not say \’this is a girl activity or a boy activity\’. That is something we are taught. We are taught gender. But we are creative from the start.
Somewhere along the lines as I was taught about my gender, I was taught that my creativity was not worthy. Around that time, my anxiety appeared.
I was a tomboy when I was young; I played football and loathed skirts and all things pink. I begged my parents for drum lessons and sometime in the fourth grade I received them. I was the only drummer in the school, let alone the only girl drummer. I was still young enough that these things did not phase me.
By sixth grade a good male friend started taking lessons from my drum teacher and he came over to my house to jam with my father and I. My father plays the bass and like every eleven year old musician, he was my idol. Jamie played my drumkit and my father said he was better than I was and that Jamie should come play with him at any time. My father did not jam with me very much. After that he could not stop talking about how good Jamie was and how Jamie should come over and play more.
I never played my drums around another person again. I was not good enough. My father preferred my friend to me.
I switched to bass but was never able to relax enough to play, and bass just was not the same. I could not feel it vibrate throughout my body with every bass drum kick, with every snare roll. There was the added bonus of my bass rubbing against my clit, but there was no full body action for my soul. I felt robbed. But something in me had snapped.
It was not just the comments from my father. A lot of other things had changed that year; I had become more anxious all around. I could no longer walk down the length of a lunch table in the cafeteria without panicking. Social anxiety disorder was setting in.
I had been a dancer, a writer, a musician. We all are when we are young. When I was eleven, I just stopped. Adolescence brought it to a complete halt, and it was not that I ceased to have any creative ideas, but that I was suddenly presented with the idea from people around me that my ideas were shit, and that I was shit, and that I should just shut up and stop bothering everybody with my attempts at self expression, because they were worthless.
My anxiety reached the point where I hid in a basement almost exclusively for nearly three years, rarely venturing out, too afraid to see anyone. During that time my once overactive creativity put the word \’hibernation\’ to shame and practically ceased to exist. I stopped playing music, ceased creating visual art, and halted my singing. Only my writing continued, but that I refused to show to anyone for fear of what negative things they would say.
At the end of the three years — around the age of seventeen — my anxiety started to lessen to the point where I could leave the house a little more often. With the help of some friends I started to be creative again, a little bit at a time.
The faster my twenties approached, the more my anxiety fell away as I became more comfortable in my skin, more comfortable as a female. More comfortable to be seen as a woman — whether or not I have talent or what I have talent in I still do not know but I do not have the anxiety I had about it that I did ten years ago.
I celebrated my twenty-first birthday two months ago, and while you still will not find me on a stage behind a microphone or my drumkit, at the very least you can find me on a dancefloor shaking my groove thang, and that is surely an improvement from hiding in my basement wishing for the stars but ending up hiding in the gutter. And maybe one day you will see me on some stage somewhere, pounding away, not as a girl drummer, but as a drummer, free of the anxiety that has held me back all these years.