Into Darkness This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 1, 2017
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With beaming lights shining down upon me, the echo of hushed voices seemed deafening, but the loudest rung within me. My own jittery, panicked voice echoed slow and clear inside my mind, “Just breathe.”

Ever since I was young music has resonated with me. For a “tough cookie,” or so I was described, tears never came easy during movies, which I always found strange. My friends would be blubbering messes in the theater seat besides me, while I watched with dry eyes wondering why I wasn’t wailing with them. It dawned on me later that it wasn’t that the emotions weren’t there, but instead it took something much simpler to bring them out of me. It seems cliche to think so little as a song could start a revolution within someone, but for me that’s exactly what happens.

When listening to a song the first thing I pay attention to is the lyrics. I analyze what they mean, detect their worth to the singer, discover my standpoint on the tune, and within moments I’m hooked. My father had always told me that I could remember the lyrics to any song after one listen, even the ones from my long traveled past that hadn’t been played in years. He would say that my ears were always open. Even if I wasn’t talking, I was listening.

I hadn’t known I could actually sing until eighth grade. After being told constantly as a child that my singing was ear splitting I didn’t think there was a use. The extent to any melody I would hold from there on out would be from sing alongs in the car, hymns at church, and holiday carrols. I hadn’t achieved the confidence to try; I was certain I would fail. Despite constant compliments that came to me as I aged, my voice developing further from childhood years and becoming quite pleasant, I didn’t think anything of it until my cousin invited me to her own show.

I had known she was an amazing singer, but when I witnessed her sing live something clicked within me. I realized that was something I wanted. Watching her sing, the band playing perfectly in time, I was moved. Joy exuberated from me, my mood lifting from nothing to the widest of smiles. Somewhere inside I knew I wasn’t a bad singer, but witnessing such a presence made me want to be like her. To be the person who could use their voice to bring light into people. I knew music could make a difference with me, be it tears or anger, happiness or hope, but from that instant I wanted to be the one to incite emotions, not just go through them.

Once freshman year started I decided it was my time to take a leap into sheer darkness. My mother signed me up for the same music lessons my cousin took, which offered performances with an accumulated band of other participants. During my first lesson I met my singing teacher. She looked to me like an aged rock and roll singer, accompanied with a fiery personality that was instantly unforgettable. My first few songs were rocky messes as I lost my breath more than often. After the first go around, she bestowed me with some advice, “Don’t be nervous. People think everyone judges them for their art, but half the people out there could never do it themselves. So just breathe.”

Flash forward a few months later. My teacher told me I was ready, and whenever it felt right I could signup for a show. I scribbled my name down under the singing section of the pop music show and within weeks we began. Every week our group of young musicians gathered, and in three months showtime was upon us. I was prepared as could be, but just before curtains opened my calm facade turned anxious and afraid. I realized that I had never performed live before. My mind raced with how I’d be seen. ‘What if I mess up? What will they say?’ The confidence I had been building quivered within me. This was truly my leap into darkness.

With beaming lights shining down upon me, the echo of hushed voices seemed deafening, but the loudest rung within me. My own jittery, panicked voice echoed slow and clear inside my mind, “Just breathe.”

And from the darkness I emerged.

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