Well, we've made it to the end of dead week, and miraculously, I survived. Let's just say staying up until 4 a.m is way more fun when it's because you wanted to watch all of Firefly in one night, rather than because you're writing a presentation that you have to give seven hours from then. My first year of college has been quite the ride. It started out in probably one of the worst possible ways, but is ending on a much more positive note. Throughout the year I have experienced major ups and major downs, just like any other first year college student has probably gone through. I've made new friends, I've had my first roommate, I've spent eight months away from home for the first time. I've flown home by myself, gotten meals by myself, and performed in front of an audience by myself. It has been a wild ride, full of new things, first experiences, and unfamiliar places. I can honestly say that I've learned just as much outside of the classroom as I have in class.
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"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!" The beginning of my first semester at college was, to say the least, not great. My parents and I had driven up 6 hours to get to our hotel, and before we got to our hotel we went to grab a bite to eat. In that time, some low-lifes stole basically everything of value out of our car in less than an hour. Since I was moving into school, there were a LOT of things of value in our car- and among them was my violin of seven years. I still find it hard to talk about, because it was so incredibly heartbreaking that someone would take my baby away from me. In addition, I lost several electronics, my purse, and my parents stuff wasn't left untouched either. That was without a doubt the worst night of my life. I started off college by filing a police report. The next day, a day that should have been about the excitement of moving into my first dorm room and meeting new friends, I instead spent it waiting for an hour to get a new driver's license, making sure my bank accounts were secure, buying a new laptop, and frantically trying to rent a violin so that I had some sort of instrument to play in lessons and symphony. Not to mention I had gotten no sleep and been crying for a straight twelve hours.
I felt empty for a long time after that night. Though the crime could have been so much worse (none of us were hurt), I felt personally violated and betrayed. That someone could do something like that so thoughtlessly made me sick to my stomach, and I was incredibly angry and sad for months. For a while, I pretended that I was OK- I went to class, did my homework, watched some Netflix- rinse, repeat. It wasn't really until January that I realized I was very much not OK. Normally I'm a very open person who finds it pretty easy to make friends, go hang out with new people, and be involved in class. I was now finding myself only leaving my room to eat or go to class, only talking to my roommate, and even then that was only occasionally. I found myself eating terribly and not taking care of myself very well. I found myself losing myself. I quickly realized that a nursing major would not fit someone who didn't know themselves anymore. I hmm'd and haaa'd for weeks on end, trying to select a major that better fit me. It took a while because I felt so far away from the real me.
Eventually I came out of that darker period of my life. Over Christmas break I got away from school, away from my dorm room, away from everything that reminded me of that whole nightmarish experience. I felt the relief of being away from all that, opening the door to the healing which I was finally ready for. January was still tough, because I was trying to figure out my major- it was dark and cloudy and gloomy all the time, and I only had one class (J-term) to distract me with work. But after a while, I came to the realization that music was my path. It came to me in this way- I realized that if those people had stolen my (hypothetical) nursing scrubs, or my stethoscope, or even my paycheck from whatever hospital I worked at, I would never have been as upset as I was when I lost my violin. Never. Losing my violin made me acutely aware of just how much I needed it, how much I needed music in my life, forever.
After this realization I was afraid, because what if I wasn't good enough? What if I couldn't make it as a musician? What if I didn't have what it takes? What if I failed? These questions were tossed around in my head for another two months before I got the courage to take a chance on myself, and declare a music major. Now that I have, I couldn't be more sure of anything. Even if I'm not good enough, even if I don't make it as a musician, even if I don't quite have what it takes, even IF I fail, I have people, friends and family, who love and support me, and that means more than any of those stupid what-if questions.
I've learned a lot about myself this year. I've gone through a really hard time, and come out the other side stronger and more courageous. I've done things that I was scared, and sometimes terrified to do- I never thought I could get up and speak in front of a class full of people by myself for twenty minutes, but I did that on Thursday. I never thought I could perform (part of) a major solo work in front of an audience in a concert hall but I did that last week. I never thought I would have the guts to take a chance on myself and work toward completing a music major, but I signed that paper in April. My first year of college I have learned so much, but probably most importantly, I've learned how to believe in myself. I'm not going to lie, I'm still working at it, and there are times when I don't know where I'm going or feel like giving up. But I don't, because where I'm going and being tired doesn't matter half as much as what I'm doing: playing music, encouraging my friends, calling my parents, going to musicals, supporting my colleagues, having meaningful conversations with my professors and classmates. These are the things that matter in college, at least to me. These are the things that I want to remember.