I stood huddled on the risers as the music swirled around me. The pure ring of soprano voices floated through the air. The brassy timbre of the altos meshed flawlessly with the warmth of the tenors’ voices and with the deep reverberation of the baritones. Together, we swelled softly to a cadence, as would a gently rolling sea. We became one, our hearts connected in the pure expression of the song. A tingling sensation of warmth coursed through my body as the song progressed, and I felt pure, unbridled joy. In that moment, I acknowledged the truth I had been denying for so long.
I had been running away from doing what I loved.
December 11th, 2015 was the first time I had sung onstage in well over two years. Why had I given up something about which I was incredibly passionate?
In my first year of college, when I decided to stop singing, I convinced myself quitting was absolutely necessary because I would run out of time to grapple with all of the new challenges of college: studying for difficult classes, living away from home, and making my own decisions. In the deepest recesses of my heart, however, where I hide every part of myself that I strive to protect from the world, there lies a wildly disparate answer.
I was terrified that I would fail. I worried that any audition I would face would end in tears softly streaming from my eyes. I assumed that the heavy burden of failure would drag down my heart until I reached the point of complete numbness, unable to feel any longer.
I now understand the truth I had been denying for the so long. The deepest sadness lies not in failure, but in distancing yourself from your passion. The purest happiness lies not in success, but in wholeheartedly embracing your passion, in engaging with it, in sharing it with the world. This realization sparked my reaction to the news that my high school was having an alumni performance for former members of the jazz choir. I fully knew that my life was a hectic whirlwind of assignments, midterms, and projects, but I immediately felt compelled to participate, to sing, to use my voice to invoke positivity, joy, and high spirits as I had done for so many years before.
I sang. I sang despite having taken a grueling final just hours before that had left me feeling as though my energy was wholly depleted. Prior to the performance, my mind was clouded with a thick, seemingly impenetrable fog. I worried relentlessly over my grades, my future, and my career. What would become of me if I failed to earn the grades I wanted? Would I attain the success for which I constantly strive? In an instant, however, my perspective shifted radically.
The moment I stepped onto the risers, the previously blistering heat of the stage lights caressed me. The audience’s warmth and radiance fueled me. The first note flowed confidently from my mouth, radiating pure love and passion. As the song progressed, I felt revitalized and uplifted. Nothing else mattered except this moment, in which I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with fifty other alumni, and our voices became one. I sang from my heart, because I knew in my heart that no matter how many obstacles, trials, and tribulations stand in the way of pursuing my passion, no one can take the song out of the singer.
Fear of failure is crippling. It robs us of talent and denies us happiness and passion, but it can be overcome. By embracing every part of yourself, recognizing your true talents, and believing in the infinite possibilities of your own success, you can defeat fear with passion. As long as you quell your fear and gently nourish your best qualities, your passion will blossom. Strive to recognize your strengths. Strive to become your personal best at whatever strikes your interest. Strive to use your talents to better the world, to promote happiness and encouragement. Even when life is at its bleakest, never give up your passion. Your passion is an integral part of your identity, and nothing, not even fear, can take it away from you.