What We Get Used to

I have this annoying habit of crossing my legs.

Tightly.

I also have a habit of not straightening my back. My back is always curled. I am afraid that it’s going to be stuck that way, when I’m old and my body is no longer flexible.

Neither of those things are comfortable for me to do. Well, I take it back. They are comforting, though not comfortable.

I’m just used to doing them. So I do, when I’m not thinking about it, or when I need comfort.

When I went to college, I was a music major. Except all I had up to that point was 6 years of private piano lessons and 2 years of classical guitar. Hardly an adequate preparation for pursuing rigorous and competitive classical music program at St. Olaf College.

The worst part of all was that I had no significant performing skills. Every time I say that I’m a music major, people would ask “what do you play?” which is a reasonable assumption. Most musicians pursued the major because they were good at playing something (or singing).

To that, I answered “uhh, I’m a composition major.”

Among the music majors those studying composing were definitely the most diverse bunch. Because composition was primarily about what we can think up. There were minimum performance requirements, but those were not that rigorous — so those of us without Significant Performing Skills could still major in music. There were a handful of us like that, in a department made up of dozens and dozens of amazing singers and players.

And they all played in one of the three concert ensembles: the choir, the orchestra, or the band.

And needless to say, I was in none of them. I was in a choir, but not the concert one.

I got good grades in classes — even won a distinction — but I always felt that I didn’t belong there. I was an outsider looking in, unable to find a place in the social circles of “the music major.”No matter how successful I was in the classroom, where it really mattered — the performance — I was not good enough. I didn’t like it, but I got used to that.

And that’s how I thought of myself for 10 years after that.

For better or worse, we get used to things. And we find comfort in what we’re used to. Even when what we find comfortable is hurting us.

Habits are hard to break, but it’s worth spending time and effort to break bad habits. Good habits may be harder to instill, but when you make yourself do it and get used to it — you can enjoy the build up of its benefits for years.

We become what we’re used to. So, make a choice — what do you want to be?

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