I auditioned for an acapella group on campus last week (I know, you can gasp out loud). If you’ve lived with me for an extended period of time, you might know that I like to sing, but I would have never dreamt of doing it in front of a group of amazing people sitting behind desks while noting everything I did in their notebooks. Sadly, I did not perform as well as I had expected to. I find this funny because I thought acapella groups hardly reject people. The other thing is that the only acapella group I auditioned for is one of the best on campus so maybe I was way over my head. During the audition, I knew that I had not done as well as I had been expecting and I remember feeling dejected for a couple of hours after the audition. I think I was daunted by the fact that the person who auditioned right before me had been so good and sang Stone Cold by Demi Lovato. Now, I have huge respect for anyone who sings any Demi Lovato song and still sounds good, but that also intimidated me. The other thing might be that I am a decent singer but I am not amazing. I know that and I have made peace with it. But, the experience revealed to me a few things I had neglected to take note of over the summer/winter break. Here they are, in no particular order.
Take it as it comes
I am one year closer to twenty-one this year, which makes me happy. What makes me happier, however, is the growth I’ve seen in the way I handle disappointment. I am able to be kind to myself and to forgive myself for what I deem to be my failures. Being able to objectively figure out causes and effects without getting too emotional over them has been another area of growth for me. Understanding that the effort I put in is as important as the outcome has opened up my mind to the possibility of enjoying the ride while I work towards the end goal. The goal was to get into the acapella group. I spent a lot of time practicing and I enjoyed every moment of going over which song to sing with my friends. I might not have made it into the group, but the process of getting ready for the auditions made me challenge myself and fall back on a support system I had not taken the time to acknowledge last year.
“But if you never try, you’ll never know.”
I love this T-shirt I got two years ago which has a motto on it which I have come to live by without realizing it. I’ve realized that I would rather try, despite going against my defaults, than have questions beginning with the words “What if?” weighing me down. I’ll be honest, I almost did not audition. Just like I almost did not go for the first day of my internship with Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) through the Zimbabwe Career Connect (ZCC) back in June. I have a very deep-seated fear of the unknown. I lie planning for the future, but when the future becomes reality and I have to get down to doing what it is I set out to do in the first place, I suddenly have trouble breathing or thinking straight. In both instances, I had to put one foot of the other and keep walking to the place I wanted to go to. Last week while I sat outside listening to the amazing person who sang before me, I almost stood up and left. In June, during our initial meeting at Education Matters, I sat in a circle with people I did not know and wondered why I would want to be taking a four-hour commute, including time spent in traffic, to and from the WCoZ offices during the Zimbabwean winter. In both cases, I realized that the regret of not knowing what might have been would weigh me down for the longest time.
Book of Gratitude
I began keeping a book of gratitude over my break as an effort to find the little things I enjoyed about my time back at home instead of concentrating on all the negatives that were pervasive to my experience. Writing the three things I was grateful for at the end of each day became my favorite daily ritual and I have promised myself to continue doing it at Wellesley. My book of gratitude helps me to slow down and appreciate a little bit of the abundant good in my life every day. Without that book of gratitude, I know I would have focused more on the cold weather and my long commute. Instead, I was grateful for my supervisor’s guidance at WCoZ and the conversations I had with strangers in the combis. Last week, after I got rejected, I know I would have focused more on how I failed to impress and how it made me feel inadequate. Instead, I was grateful for the support I received and the realization that while the goal matters, the experience is important too. Outside of these two events, I am filled with gratitude for the chance to experience a liberal arts education, the support my family gives me, the people I am coming into contact with and the connections I am making on a daily basis. Not that I did not appreciate all of this before, but having ten minutes of the day where all I am concentrating on is gratitude has helped me to see this clearly.
Which is to say that..
My summer/winter break was not the best out there; In fact, it was filled with disappointment. My first week of classes has been a whirlwind of excitement, anger, confusion and laughter. I, however, refuse to police the happiness derived from the experiences which come with seeing one’s family after a while and seeing one’s friends after three months and from simply being home. I have resolved to enjoy the experiences that come my way, walking undaunted and pursuing my goals fearlessly while nurturing the values I cultivate along the journey.
Author Nokukhanya Victoria Ncube is a USAP alum who has just started her sophomore year at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Follow her seasonal series of check-ins here on our blog.