Before I’d play golden music on my Fender guitar, I’d admire the stained wood and strings. Every day was the same: the moment I returned home from school, I sought an hour of solitude with my guitar. I’d grasp the fret-board, pulling it free from the magenta wall, right where the tuning mechanisms scratched my wall silver. My guitar chords always emitted a prismatic sound when I struck them against the grain with my pick before I sifted through the printed chords of my favorite songs and chose the one I’d play, sometimes over and over.
Back in those days, I played a Taylor Swift song at least once a day, teaching myself guitar through watching videos of her songs again and again to get the tone just right. I’d read books to learn how to move my fingers to change the tone of music. I’d tune my guitar constantly until it sounded absolutely right.
Although I’ve always been a storyteller, playing my guitar was a detour that only opened up my imagination towards future writing. The songs I’d play on my guitar made daydreams flash across my mind, fairy-tales of white horses and girls dancing in country boots as they found the boys of their dreams. But I learned something about myself through those imaginings, and saw how the songs I wrote with my best friend revealed that what I really looked for wasn’t a boy to understand me at that volatile age. What I really wanted was to be a more confident person, to shed that which made me fear.
The truth sometimes appeared to me in bursts as we wrote about failed crushes, imagining we knew something about love. I think what we learned most back then was that a girl’s most difficult job is to find her voice. The problem may not have been with anyone else. It was us that needed to grow as people before we could ever experience the romance of the songs we’d grown up listening to.
A few years ago, I heard the saying by George Bernard Shaw that “life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” I did create myself by learning the lessons that made me a stronger person.
My guitar taught me to be confessional. Back then, my best qualities were an anchor sinking into a cloudy ocean, ever present but never seen by anyone. I sunk my feelings and dreams away so no one would ever see them. It took me a long time to realize that I wouldn’t live a blissful life if I could never be free.
Most importantly, I learned that I had a voice. It may have been the voice of a little girl who spoke quietly, but she grew up to be someone stronger than she ever thought she would be. My heart rose every time I played those songs. That made me see that sometimes the most meaningful instances in our life, the most powerful lessons we will ever learn, happen in moments of solitude.
Sometimes we need that confidence to boost us up, even as we grow up and move into life. We need those passions to anchor us to truth and show us who we are.
The guitar that once made its home in my bedroom now hides in its case. There once was a time when that would have been unthinkable. That doesn’t discourage me. It’s been several years since I’ve played, but a week doesn’t go by that I don’t think about playing that guitar again. Yet I know the guitar served its purpose in my life, and whenever I need to hear its shining strum again, I know where to find it.
Kayla Dean is a Vegas-based writer who reports about arts and entertainment. She also interviews writers and blogs about living a creative life on kayladean.com. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest @kayladeanwrites.