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Dear diary: Celia Marie
The audacity to be.
In January 2021 I decided to participate in the @sheshreds_media #1riffaday Instagram challenge. Women and nonbinary lovers of music were encouraged to practice an instrument (beginners and pros alike) for five minutes a day for 30 days for a chance to win an electric guitar and Ernie Ball package. The purpose of the challenge was to create more space in an industry otherwise dominated by men.
“It was a boys club. When I played the upright bass in grade school orchestra, it was a running joke that I was the only girl in the bass section.”
Having started to learn the bass guitar during the first lockdown (at least something good came out of spending 60 days alone), the challenge was the motivation I needed to improve my beginner skills. It also provided community- group chats were created and soundcloud links shared. The support made the struggle of exploring our instruments more manageable. In fact, it was the first time I was allowed to experiment… electrically… without feeling like I was being looked down on or taken less seriously than my male musician peers. Everyone was encouraging and inspiring. It was a great month.
Although I’ve been a boy band fanatic since the early days of the Jonas Brothers (there I said it!) actually being the one up there on the stage never really seemed like an option to me. It was a boys club. When I played the upright bass in grade school orchestra, it was a running joke that I was the only girl in the bass section. I didn’t understand the complexity of it at the time… it was just the way things were. I came to accept it. So it’s no wonder I eventually ditched the upright bass and settled into the crowd, admiring the young male musicians who had no reason to question their belonging. It took a lot of self discovery and an international pandemic for me to realize that I didn’t have to question mine either. Did I want them? Or want to be them?
The #1riffaday challenge intended to combat the underrepresentation of women and nonbinary folks in music proved I wasn’t alone. And for 30 days I posted my riffs using my new confidence and the new “reel” Instagram feature. While the challenge came to an end, the algorithm kept my reels circulating. And circulating. And in less than two months I, the beginner bassist, had 80k & counting new Instagram followers who now knew me as ‘that bass girl on instagram.’
In some cheesy reality, it was as if my fate had been chosen for me. Somehow the nine-year-old girl who had decided to play the upright bass in the elementary school orchestra had known it too. It just took me 16 years to catch up. My enthusiastic bass reels originally intended to log my own progress had now accumulated viewers outside of my comprehension. Millions. And even further outside of my comprehension were the trolls. Mixed in with the words of encouragement, admiration, and marriage proposals flooding my DMS was loads and loads of hatred. People were angry. Specifically men.
“They were angry that I had the audacity to learn a new instrument and post about it. That I had the audacity to be imperfect. That I had the audacity to… be a woman in music?”
Here it was once again: I did not belong. I’m not going to lie, it almost got to me. Nearly one year after learning the bass guitar in lockdown, Paris was in confinement 2.0 at the time and I was left to process the incomprehensible phenomenon of the algorithm alone. My instagram was literally broken. For months I could only see the past minute of notifications. Amidst all of the exposure I had my first panic attack. I turned to therapy to process the pressure that was radiating off of my phone.
No matter how many positive comments I received I couldn’t shake the trolls. I couldn’t understand why they were so angry. They were angry that I had the audacity to learn a new instrument and post about it. That I had the audacity to be imperfect. That I had the audacity to… be a woman in music? Most importantly, they were angry that people were interested. Eventually I came to understand that they were just projecting their own insecurities onto me, but it was still hard.
“I’m on a mission. To have the audacity to continue. To do my best. And to create space for others to do the same especially those who are underrepresented.”
Now I’ve been playing the bass guitar for nearly three years. And it makes me so happy. And I’m on a mission. To have the audacity to continue. To do my best. And to create space for others to do the same especially those who are underrepresented.
Never question if you belong… know that you do. That’s what I’ve learned.
That’s rock n’ roll