In my basement office, displayed proudly behind my right shoulder against the wood-paneled wall, is the first guitar I ever owned. As I turn on my video to address my coworkers in daily Teams meetings, it stands as a silent and constant reminder of my humble beginnings as a kid who was afraid to be vulnerable.
I remember the day I picked up this guitar from the local pawn shop like it was yesterday. It was nothing to marvel at — a bit dinged, scuffed and imperfect — but it also had a lot of songs left in its strings. I was an unproven musician, who couldn’t tell a chord from a strum. Something inside me was drawn to that black dreadnought, and I knew at that very moment I needed to learn how to make it sing. So, I decided then and there I was going to teach myself to play.
Let me share a universal truth I learned during that journey: starting anything new, you’re going to be bad at it. No, scratch that. You’re going to be horrible. Whether it’s strumming a guitar, writing a novel, designing websites, painting a masterpiece, or even running a business, the beginning is always tough. We are often quick to forget that every great person who ever achieved anything worthwhile started at zero, struggled, and probably made a fool of themselves more than once.
This first guitar of mine, a silent observer of my countless hours of practice and perseverance, is a testament to my journey from an absolute beginner to a proficient guitarist. Proficient in the sense that I could play an acoustic cover set at the local open mic night, but good enough for me nonetheless. I had no aspirations of touring or going pro; a campfire guitarist is all I need to be.
This guitar has seen the tips of my fingers bleed in the early days, now hardened with callouses. It’s heard the discordant sounds that I initially produced, and it’s been a part of the frustration and the urge to quit. I’m honestly surprised this guitar didn’t meet the same fate of Paul Simonon’s P Bass, but however slim the odds, she survived.
But this guitar has also been there during those moments of breakthrough when a tricky chord progression finally clicked, or when I first played a complete song without any mistakes. The journey was long, challenging, and even painful at times, but every bit worth it.
Today, every time I catch a glimpse of this guitar in the reflected video frame, I am reminded of this journey. A journey that was not just about learning to play an instrument, but also a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It reminds me that to get good at anything, to truly excel, you have to put in the hours. You have to be patient with yourself, you have to be resilient in the face of setbacks, and you must have the courage to get up every time you fall. Or bleed. Or cry.
If you’re starting something new, remember that the journey is everything. Embrace the process, no matter how long and difficult it might be. The struggles, the late nights, the moments of self-doubt—they all contribute to your growth and eventual success.
In our era of instant gratification, it’s easy to forget the value of hard work, patience, and persistence. The first guitar I ever owned serves as my personal symbol of these qualities and the power they hold. It tells a story—a story of growth, perseverance, and the joy of the journey. I hope it inspires others to embrace their challenges and turn them into opportunities for personal development.
So, the next time you find yourself doubting your abilities or getting frustrated with your progress, take a deep breath, be patient, and remember my guitar. The journey is worth it, and the struggle is just part of the process. Embrace it. It’s through the journey that we truly grow.