MY STORY

"THIS TURNED OUT TO BE THE ABSOLUTE HARDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE"

I had always been spoonfed little tastes of music, but it was not until seventh grade that my hunger grew animal-like, and I became ravenous for music.

Sixth grade was terrible from the get go, and it quickly became a test of faith. I rapidly learned that I no longer wanted to attend a school from which I came home crying every other day, even though public school was all I had ever known. Nonetheless, I made the painstaking switch to homeschool and entered into seventh grade ready to try new things.

On a whim, I signed up for a songwriting class at a homeschool co-op. This turned out to be the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. I went in with an enjoyment of music, but never had I studied music theory, played contemporary piano, learned a chord on the guitar, or written original music. All of a sudden I was expected to do them all.

Not even a month into the school year, our class was asked to write our first song. We were given two weeks to finish the lyrics, melody, piano part, and chord charts. I battled through those weeks. There were times when inspiration struck from nowhere. Abundant strings of words and melodies fell right out of my head. I could hardly write fast enough. But then came times of utter frustration. Times of sitting at the piano for hours on end and not being able to string a measly five notes together. These were the times when every musical pore in my body seemed to be clogged up with no hope of clarity.

 

I began rationalizing myself into thinking that I was just one more example of a girl growing up and realizing her fantasies were just that: fantasies. Any instinct in me that had incessantly whispered, “You need to become a musician” was shut up. I was terrified. Terrified of failure. Terrified that I would never be good enough. Terrified that I would never be able to make a difference in the world. In these times, when utter misery dominated every inch of my mind and body, I cried. I cried and decided I was just not cut out to song write.

However, I persevered. I wrote and wrote and wrote until something worthwhile finally landed on that paper. And then the first battle was won, and I had finished it. I had finished my first song.

"I WAS DEVASTATED AND THOUGHT ONCE AGAIN THAT IT WAS JUST NOT IN ME TO BE A SONGWRITER"

A few anxiety-ridden days later, I walked into class. Triumphant, and with crisp lyrics in hand, I was ready to share my heart, my song.

When my name was called, I could not for the life of me find my confidence. It seemed to have retreated to some dark, unknown corner of my mind. It was as if my confidence had decided to play a taunting game of hide and seek right when I needed it most. Trembling, I made my way to the keyboard at the front of the room, feeling the eyes of my classmates follow me all the way there. I was mistaken for expecting a sense of relief when I reached that keyboard. Nonetheless, I sat down, adjusted the microphone, and gently placed my restless hands atop the awaiting keys.

Then I played.

With every word my confidence came racing back. With every note my hands relaxed. How was it possible that I felt both completely relaxed and completely exhilarated? I was lost in my song and I had never felt more free.

After letting the last note ring out, I was expecting to hear some sort of resounding affirmation, but what I was not expecting to hear was that the phrasing was off in my verses, the chords were too boring, and my entire bridge needed to be rewritten from scratch. I was devastated and once again thought that it was just not in me to be a songwriter.

Despite such devestation, I made those edits, rewrote my bridge, and brought my freshly edited song to class the following week. This time, I was told a nonchalant, "Your song sounds good." Simple words, but ones that made my heart soar.

That was still just the beginning.

Partway through first semester of that year, I went on a fall retreat to Camp Shamineau. On one of the nights, as the speaker told the story of when he knew he wanted to become a pastor, something just clicked. He shared that during a time of praying and asking God what he was supposed to do with his life, he decided to go on a walk. On this walk, he came across a hill, and as he neared its peak, he could suddenly see a large congregation all around him. People gathered, eyes wide, ready to hear what he had to say. He started to preach to those people who he saw so clearly in his mind’s eye. Nothing had ever felt more right and that was his deciding moment. ​

"BUT I KNOW THAT MUSIC HAS BEEN UNLOCKED WITHIN ME, AND I CAN NO LONGER STOP ITS FLOW"

As he shared his story, time seemed to slow. I seemed to drift into my subconscious, into an alternate state of being. I found myself in a dark room with small lights flickering all around me. And then one big, brilliant light shone down and there I was, guitar in hand, on stage in an arena, singing my heart out to the people. Even from afar, I could see intense passion and happiness light up my face.

Then, I was myself on that stage and instead of seeing what what was going on inside of me, I could feel it. A ying-yang of comfort and adrenaline. Then one by one, I started to see the faces of the people in the crowd. As I continued in song, I was able to see their eyes. Some were wide in realization, some in tears, some with smiles ablaze. My music was touching their souls, making a difference.

That's when I knew.

Over the course of that class, I was asked to write and then edit, write and then edit, write and then edit and edit and edit. Not only that, but I had to learn everything from music theory to modern piano, guitar basics to chord charts, songwriting to performance. It was a lot, and not gonna lie, there were multiple occasions when I went into class fully intending to drop out.

Since that fateful year, music has become more and more a part of me. Writing songs has become therapeutic. Learning new techniques has become a joy. Playing has become a must and I can now see myself doing nothing but music as a career. Not that I know exactly what my life will look like or exactly what my path will consist of, but I know that music has been unlocked within me, and I can no longer stop its flow.

I have learned that the hardest things have the greatest rewards. I truly thought I was not cut out to be a musician. I thought that there was no song within me, but it was precisely then that I began to find it. My song is my life. Nothing more, nothing less. The lyrics to this song are what I do, what I think, what I say, what I want, what I hate, what I hope for, what I love. I found my voice, unlocked my song, and it is oh so rewarding.