Driving away from the hotel where my Mum and little brother who tried to get in the car with us and my little sister were staying, was very difficult. You know you're going to say goodbye again, you give your brother as many hugs as you can but sometimes it's just not enough. I hate not seeing him grow up, I also hate not having my parents over to visit more often, and hate that they can’t see me drive or that I can’t take them to my favourite places. We had such a great time as a family for a week or two, traveling to Canada and seeing Niagara falls and my best friends, showing Natalie the Messiah campus. I didn't want to leave them all in Pennsylvania especially Natalie, just as she gets here for the first time.
Yet I knew through the difficulty of leaving friends, family and the familiar for the past two years was something that I would need to do in order to pursue a wonderful opportunity.
Here is a little piece of what I have experienced in Nashville so far.
My stomach cramping in ferocious nerves, not talent show nerves or public speaking nerves but nerves because I know how important this opportunity is in my life! I laid half my body over the hotel bed and my knees knelt at the side of the bed in a form ready for prayer. We had just had a grueling 14 hour journey and just arrived in the hotel for the night and all I could think about was the pressure of writing songs every week and having to get used to a new life again for the next four months. When you push yourself out of the circle that introverts like me draw for ourselves, you can find that you become so tempted to run back to where you drew your lines. Even a toe starting to slip out can become a danger zone. Yet it's then that you have to say no, I literally had to look myself in the mirror and say I CAN DO THIS.
Confidence for me has never been a strong point but living independently away from everyone you know, literally separated by oceans is a push in the confidence direction yet it's not a reassured cure for lack of confidence. Confidence is almost like a habit it takes a while to get used to and to practice before it can be properly integrated into your life.
The people down here in Tennessee are generally a lot politer and more patient than those from the East coast. Everything is larger, the cars, the soda, the food EVERYTHING. I felt a lot more at home blaring out Carrie Underwood down here than back in PA too.
Apart from the general observations my experience so far has been pretty great! I arrived to an apartment with three unique characters, who are all very sweet and considerate housemates! We all love sharing our music together and talking about the latest artists who we love. Early morning gym sessions and healthy food geek outs would be a good description of our first few days together so far.
The CMC center itself is amazing, equipment wise, professor wise, concert wise and that is all in the space of the three days I have been here so far! Don't get me wrong the nerves and anxiety have not gone away, but after meeting the rest of the 27 eager music fanatics, learning their styles and seeing how much they love music too, it has encouraged me to become more comfortable and confident.
One experience I had today that I won’t easily forget is when I knew that I had come here for a reason. We had an opening show today to showcase our original music. I wanted to throw up this morning I was so overwhelmed but my nerves starting to calm as the day went on luckily. I watched the other artists pour their hearts out one by one, each artist with such a unique sound, such different stories to tell with their words. Then it was my turn. Heart thumping, my throat unnecessarily gulping itself dry, I clumsily made my way over to the stage my converse trying to stick to the ground in absolute horror of what I was about to do. I gripped my ivory white guitar extra hard as I made a small smile towards my fellow students and professors who were taking notes! And for the first time I starting playing and singing without even thinking about who was on the receiving end. I just wanted to let it out, I thought, you know what I have a voice too, I have a story that I want to share, words that I want to use to encourage and uplift to God who is watching his daughter as only my proud Dad can. I sang my heart out, it didn't even matter that my fingers started stumbling near the end, my voice knew where it was going and I just kept going. My song was a lot shorter than the others so people were slightly shocked when I abruptly strummed a last chord and leapt of the stage with a little bow. Somehow inside I knew I had done it, I knew that I can do this. I can find my sound, my story and tell others about it to the glory of God who allowed me this opportunity. I sat down next to my fellow singers and new friends and beamed as I looked down in disbelief that a little girl from Mossley, Greater Manchester, could have got this far by the time she was 20.
Find out more about my adventures in Nashville soon...