First experiences

Nellie Brosnan

Life is the sum of experiences. Or more importantly, the sum of first experiences. Life is about your first trip to the zoo, your first family vacation, your first broken bone or first crush. These experiences make up our day-to-day lives and are the only things that we care about when we die. Food, money and relationships all leave us when we die, but experiences stay with us forever.

People rarely want to put themselves out there and take a risk in order to try something new. It seems as if we have more judgments today about people and places than we used to, which deters us from trying new things. People always say “There’s a first time for everything,” and there is. We just have to want to try.

Freshman year, there was an audition for a solo in my choir class for our winter concert. I love to sing, whether it is in class, around the house, in the shower, anywhere and everywhere, and I  was determined to get that solo. The only problem was the audition.

In order to try out, I had to sing the solo in front of the entire class. When I got up from my plastic black chair to sing, I could feel my cheeks blazing and 36 pairs of eyes fixed upon me. I could barely hear my own voice I was singing so quietly. I stared straight down at the music sheet, even though I knew the song by heart.

I thought, “Come on, Nellie! You know this,” and I did; I just could not prove it. The thoughts of “What if I mess up?” and “Everyone is watching me!” kept going through my mind, as it engaged itself in a mental war between the other versions of the shoulder angel and devil: the risk rascal and the safety fairy.

The safety fairy shouted, “You will be so embarrassed if you mess up in front of everybody,” but the risk rascal responded with, “If you do not even try, then you will never get the solo!”

Eventually, the risk rascal got a hold of me by taking my priorities into consideration. I really wanted that solo because it would be incredible if I got my own part in the concert, but it was true, I would be utterly humiliated if I messed up in front of those 36 pairs of eyes. Nonetheless, the risk rascal was right, I definitely would not land the solo if I didn’t even try, never mind messing up.

As I finished the song, I glanced up from the music sheet to see everyone’s eyes staring up at me, and I turned back down, nervously examining the tops of my blue-grey Converse. I would like to say that it felt good to step out of my comfort zone in order to try something new, and it did, but it did not feel that way when I sat back down in my plastic chair, completely humiliated about how timid and shy I sounded. It was completely unlike me to sound so shy and reserved, especially doing something I love, but I did feel relieved, and proud of myself that I took this risk out of my passion for singing. That is what is funny about taking risks and doing something for the first time; there is never just one feeling. It is a mixture of feelings, all jumbled together that makes taking that risk even more questionable about whether or not you want to carry though with it. We all have little risk rascals and safety fairies on our shoulders, and it is our choice to decide who to listen to.

I did not get the solo in the end, and I was not surprised. The experience of singing out in front of my peers prepared me for later auditions during high school. In my mind, I was successful because I took the chance to try something new and I will definitely remember the little good and the lot bad of that experience. I wish I could go back to freshman year and audition again, but stronger and more confident this time, like how I was born to sing. I wish I could have brushed that safety fairy off my shoulder and listened more intently to its twin, but that is why first experiences are so important. Now I could recite the whole cliched spiel about how we “learn from past mistakes and how they make us grow as a person,” and it does, but we mainly have to make the best of our first experiences, because there is really only one time for everything.