As a young child, I was always driven to learn. For as long as I can remember, I have striven to learn. As I started school, I quickly found my knack. It didn’t take me long to figure out what I liked, didn’t like, what I excelled at, and what I struggled with. The number one thing I struggled with was the ability to present. The ability to show off the work I completed, and the ability to share my opinions. I was painfully shy as a young kid, and my self confidence was non-existent. There were times in my early education that I struggled. As an education major now, I look back and realize that all along, it wasn’t that I was unintelligent, it was that I was holding myself back. Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of struggles with certain subjects, classes, and assignments, but I believe that I was selling myself short. I was holding myself back. Let me be a living example of how important it is for children to learn to express themselves. Let me take you back to the beginning.
In August of 1996, I was clad with my favorite denim dress. My Winnie the Pooh backpack was all the rage. Arm in arm walking with my cousin, my mother and aunt sent us off to preschool. I remember thinking that that day would NEVER come. I remember the unsettling feeling of fear. But then I looked to my right and realized, I wasn’t alone. My cousin and I are two months apart in age. She was more like a sister to my older sister and I, than she was a cousin. My cousin has always been more outgoing than I. She was always the leader, and I would happily follow. We continued our school years being in the same class, all the way up until we graduated high school. I learned that I both benefited and struggled with having somebody doing the same work as me. I benefited from it because my cousin is very intelligent. She always had good marks in school, and it made me want to do as well as her. However, on the other hand, I struggled with having her there, because it was a form of competition that at times was distracting from learning. I look back today, and am grateful and thankful that I was able to learn side by side with my cousin. She helped me find a bit of self-confidence in my work and helped me become a more confident learner.
Here we are again, and now it is my fifth grade year. Now I have graduated from my Winnie the Pooh backpack, and am now carrying a three quarter sized violin. The excitement that filled me from my head to my toes. I finally got to start learning a new instrument.
At this time, I had been learning piano for five years and I was falling more in love with music every day. By this age, I had learned that I was musically inclined and creative. The following year, in sixth grade, I begun middle school band. I chose the saxophone because it was what my sister played and I quickly picked it up. In eighth grade I joined our school’s jazz band. My teacher that taught both this class and concert band really encouraged me. In everything music related. She continually tried convincing me to try out for the solos, but at the time, I was terrified and I always turned down the offers. My life as a musician changed when I was a freshman in high school. We had a small band that year and had only four saxophone players. My director made all four of us try out for the solo of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. I was naturally frustrated that I was being forced to try out, and equally as nervous. It was my turn to play, and as I finished the solo, the varsity band director come out of his office and instructed my director to select me. She didn’t hesitate. She turned back around and pointed to me. From this moment on, I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. They believed in me, they saw me as talented. They were skilled musicians, so I thought in the back of my mind “playing in front of a bunch of parents will be nothing. If my talented directors say I’m good enough, you can buck up and play for a crowd that probably isn’t even listening.” So I did, and from that moment on, I realized that as a musician, you will have times that you play horribly. That is part of being an artist. Music has taught me to express myself. This also has taught me that you must take chances in order to learn to your highest ability. Which brings me to my next point…
From the day I was born until now, twenty three years later, I have struggled with accepting failure. In school and out of school. Failing as an athlete, a musician, a student, a daughter, a friend, a teammate, a sister, and as an employee. I have struggled with not only failing other people but failing for myself. Now I know… I’ve been taught that you must fail to succeed. I am learning that still a little bit every day. Feeling as though I’ve failed when it comes to school has taught me that I must keep working at what I am struggling on and attempt and reattempt until I am satisfied with my work. This aspect of my being has made me into a dedicated learner. It may seem like a burden, or it may seem as though it may weigh me down, but in truth, it has made me into a dedicated, hard working, loyal learner.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved books. Any kind of books. Reading quickly became a passion of mine and at a young age I had many teachers tell my mother that I was becoming a good writer. Now fast forward to my sophomore year in high school. With English and literature being my favorite core classes, I was excited to see that I was having a new teacher. When we filed in the room to our designated seats, I noticed that my teacher was sitting on top of a desk, quietly watching us until she had each and every one of our eyes. Alas, she burst into loud chanting. She was reciting a poem that now has escaped my mind, but I can remember feeling confused, embarrassed, and slightly frightened of her. We had our introductions like any typical first day of class, but something about this mysterious new teacher made me curious. Much of this class revolved around three things; writing in our journals, reading books on our own time, and writing book reports and other essays. Now as I stated earlier, I am a bit on the shy side. I am reserved and rarely express how I feel to anyone. The idea of having a teacher that wore both her heart and her emotions on her sleeve was unsettling. But I learned to love this class, as I excelled, and quite frankly, who doesn’t love being good at something?
One day I was asked to stay after class. I sat through class with my nose in my work wondering what I did wrong. After class, my teacher sat down and slowed herself down to a quiet boil. She talked with me about casual things such as school, how softball was going, and things like such. Then she told me she was proud of me. Talk about the floor falling out from under me. I politely said “thank you” and asked why she was proud. She raved on and on about how she was learning that there was another side to me. She first saw a quiet and reserved young girl. She told me that through my writing, I was a whole different person. She encouraged me to stick with it. She gave me a list of topics to journal about on my own time and gave me a list of books to read. Every couple of weeks I would go in after school and receive a new book title and I would briskly walk to the library to find said book. This teacher inspired me to express myself through writing. Much like music, when a person is writing, they cannot please everyone. A person must learn to write for themselves and the audience that wants to hear their words will find them. This taught me to find my voice and accept it. I also learned from my sophomore English teacher that my mind is an ever-growing sponge and that I need to learn. I realized that year that I not only WANT to learn, but I NEED to learn. Wanting and needing to learn, striving to expand my knowledge has made me love to learn.
My family has always been very close. The morals that my family has instilled on me from day one have shaped me to being the type of learner that I am today. I grew up with my older sister and my mother and father. However, my father’s side of the family lives in the same town as me. Literally, every person in that side of my family lives in a town of 24,000 people. It is needless to say that we see each other on a daily or weekly basis. I would never have it any other way. My family, immediate and extended, teach me new things every single day. I have so many role models in my family that have encouraged me to be the person I am today. On the other hand, there are so many young cousins in my family that I strive to be my best to be a positive role model for the little ones. The young and old alike have taught me that it is important to learn from your own and your loved ones’ mistakes.
As human beings, we evolve into our own beings as we get older From day one, we are learning. Every day, every instance, and every teacher help shape us into who we are and how we learn. I learned that expressing myself through music and writing allowed me to find my voice. I have also learned that we are all learners. Everyday we are learning. Embrace it and learn your hardest.