Not all Emotions are Pretty… but all Have a Purpose

I’m sitting, crammed into the front row with a plethora of other parents, waiting anxiously for our children to appear.  We are at a concert to hear our kids play their instruments, sing their songs in choirs — basically do their best at putting themselves ‘on the line’ in an uncertain environment.  It takes enormous courage, and seeing kids (anyone really) deal with their fear, anxiety, and self judgement and find their courage to perform anything is always all inspiring to me.

As parents, all we can do is wait.  Wait and hope. We want our children to create the most beautiful sounds. To have perfect performances.  Performances that are everything they wanted for themselves. Hit all the cords perfectly. Hear loud ovations that follow them all the way to the car afterwards.

My daughter has finished.  She sang her heart out. Now I’m watching a conductor introduce a piece of music.  The song is called Pandora. Before he starts he says…

“It isn’t a pretty piece of music.  It’s not supposed to be. But It sure is a lot of fun to play.”
– David Powelson, Conductor

His words catch me off guard.  What does that even mean?, I think.  In my mind I always thought music had to be beautiful.  Pleasant. It’s there to make me feel good, right? Why else would anyone make it?  What other purpose could it possibly serve? Then it hits me…

Not everything of substance feels good.  

Music creates a feeling within the listener that helps them understand what the song is about.  It may be meant to convey a sense of sadness or outrage. But in essence, that outrage may very well be what is needed for a better understanding of the music as a whole.  I can’t help but to think that this is what a great deal of our uncomfortable emotions do for us – convey vital information to us that we need in order to understand and excel in the situations that we choose… or perhaps find ourselves in.

Growth is not always comfortable or pretty.  Uncomfortable emotions are palpable in our children as they stretch and grow with their fear and anxiety radiating through them as they perform.  But those emotions serve a purpose for them. For anyone trying to grow. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty matter. In the right dose they are catalysts, promoting growth and resilience.  They bring about a full weighted focus to try hard and achieve the outcome we’re looking for. When that outcome is reached, usually our more comfortable feelings greet us at the door as a reward for our efforts.  But whether catalyst or reward, all of our emotions are required for our best performance of our own personal symphony, regardless of the chosen arena.

What arena have you stepped into that has hit a strong chord within you? Where uncomfortable emotions have helped you rather than hindered you and allowed for you to stretch in your current area of growth?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.