In the Worldwide Church of God, there were two ways to prominence in a congregation. The first was to be on the ministerial track: Go to Ambassador College, get a ministerial assignment, and take classes in how to put a gun on a lectern and say “there’s a new sheriff in town” (yes, that really happened). The other was to be good at music.
Because I was incapable of ever pushing my true self back enough to swallow the copious amounts of bullshit they would have required to in becoming a minister, the only thing I had at my disposal was the second track.
See, it was very clear from the very beginning of my life that those who were good with music in a WCG congregation were greatly – sometimes even unhealthily – respected. By “worldly” standards, they were rarely really good, but they were at least, for the most part, competent.
When I was a teenager I was desperate for attention and acceptance, so I decided (not actually consciously) that this was the path I would take. I started studying piano. I was very smart, so it didn’t take me long to become proficient enough that I could start doing small performances for “special music”, etc. That’s not to say I was very proficient, but it was good enough for the WCG.
Then I imploded. Not much later, so did the WCG.
But somehow I got it in my head that I was competent to attend music school. I became a piano performance major at the University of Toledo, and for somewhere between two and three years, I threw myself into the study of piano.
I rank this amongst the worst and stupidest decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
I did not have the emotional depth required to be a competent musician. What was competent in the WCG was not enough to succeed anywhere except in a WCG congregation. And I was only doing it because I saw it as a path towards acceptance and admiration. Which, as it turns out, was very much not true.
I had no business even stepping inside the Center for Performing Arts.
Sure, knowing how to play piano has opened a few doors. Not many, but it’s provided a few interesting and even memorable experiences. For particularly gullible women, it seems to even be mildly attractive. But honestly, if I had never set foot inside the UT CPA, I think I would be far better off. I had many negative experiences there, and few positive ones – and most of the negative experiences were entirely my fault. Not all of them were negative, but about 95% were, and that might as well be all of them.
The WCG destroyed everything it touched, and I remain convinced, in fact more than ever, that this has been the case from the very beginning.
I should have been in the sciences. My education should have been in computer science, mathematics, or any of the other hard sciences. I would have excelled, and it would not have demanded emotional competence and maturity out of me that I was unable to provide. But I chose music, and while some of the results were okay, I will regret that decision until the day I die.