Sunday, September 20, 2009

Facing Your Fears

Lessons come in many forms, and teachers in an equally astonishing variety. My daughter is my new hero, inspiration and teacher. Last Saturday morning, despite anxiety (fear, stage fright, what ever you want to call it) she donned her new band uniform, climbed into the car and faced her first performance in marching band. The band rehearsal season started months ago but up to this point it has been all drill and endless hours of instrument practice. While some aspects of this process were fun, there were also stressful moments, as she accepted criticism and correction from the director and section leaders. She kept her game face on and always strove to make the required corrections. I can not say in words how proud I am. Her determination and her outwardly calm demeanor impressed several of the upperclassmen enough that they told her that they loved her, and how she stood up straight and said "yes sir, I will fix that..." She had been told numerous times it would become fun, once the performance season started, but up until that point anxiety often seemed to outweigh fun.

On Saturday the 19th, I caught up to her shortly after the band left the field after the halftime show. When I asked her how it went and how she felt she said "it was fun." As the day went on I & other family members checked in with her to see if it was all worth it, and each time she expressed more enthusiasm. Like many performers, once she was in position the hours of hard work were a memory and she could just enjoy performing. Fear fell away and joy filled it's place. This Saturday was a new test, she sailed happily through the performance at the football game but then had to prepare for a competition on the same day in Hershey, PA. The band had a little down time as instruments and equipment were loaded into trucks and buses and the mom's prepared to feed the band. Once fed and once their uniforms were packed up we loaded into 3 buses and a van and some trucks we headed out to face our first competition. To add to the challenges it had been raining in Hershey since 1pm and every band went on the soggy field soaked. They put on their game faces and performed like troopers. We returned to the buses so the kids could change and try to stay dry while we waited for our scores.

I had assumed that the prospect of facing judges would bring on a new round of anxiety but she was so focused on her performance (first time on AstroTurf and first time in the rain) that she was not really paying any attention to the judges.

New situations have always been one of my personal fears, as I face unfamiliar situations and "first performances" I will hold the memory of my daughter's face in my mind's eye and remember the lesson she learned on the field, and I hope to keep her bravery and determination in my mind when I face my own daemons.

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