It's All About the Timing

October 23, 2011
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I’m standing in a crowded cafeteria. I’ve never had the chance to express how much I hate being in here, with the loud chattering of students, the incessant shoving of backpacks, the fast-fleeting moments where I can actually hear myself think…

There’s a reason I eat outside.

Yet today’s important in that I’m supposed to do something I always find myself overly excited to do—and it’s not a bad thing, not at all. Even when there are going to be hundreds of eyes on me while I sing, I usually don’t get the jitters.

I often find the attention comforting: people are watching something I love to do; there are perks to it.

The gig had been moved into the cafeteria due to unfortunate weather circumstances. A piano, chairs, microphones, all set up in a tiny corner on the second floor—the stage is quite insignificant, to say the least, but it is a stage nonetheless.

Nothing will stop my anticipation.

I’m going to perform a song with a friend of mine, soon hopefully. I’m not the kind of person who takes charge of things—it’s not completely my fault. People never give me things to take charge of. What am I to do but follow when I have no chance to lead?

Performers alongside me are waiting to have their chance in the spotlight. Aren’t we performers always waiting? We prepare, we persist, and eventually, we reach a point where the perfect gig is a minute away. All the time spent practicing is then shown through a three-minute performance.

It seems short, almost unfair that it’s all we ever really get.

But I don’t care—not at all. Because three minutes is enough for me.

I’m excited about singing in front of a crowd. I always get excited for these kinds of things, no matter how nervous I make myself seem. It’s a sort of disease, showing what I don’t feel. Perhaps I’ll fix that, but not today.

“We may not go today, if that’s okay,” My friend says.

I know the reason. The rain had delayed the performances, pushed people back… I hadn’t wanted to face the idea that I may not get to sing today.

What about what we’d practiced? It hadn’t been a whole lot, but it had still been done.

“Okay,” I say.

I’m a pushover—at least, it’s what I want people to think. I hate to be demanding when things don’t go my way. Sometimes, it’s better to save face instead of arguing; people respect it more.

Some groups who go up play one or two songs. I’m impatient. I wish they wouldn’t do that, with the multiple songs. Others want a chance in front of the microphone in front of the crowd too.

Lunch will end in a few minutes.

I’m hungry. It’s not fair. I skipped lunch for this; I had planned out my entire day so that it would revolve around this one moment, this one chance to show my peers something I love to do, and what I can do with it.

Singing isn’t just a simple hobby—that’s what I want them to know. I want them to know that I’m good, and I want them to think I am good.

And maybe it’s pride, but who cares? Everyone who practices like I do, and everyone who dreams like I do, and everyone who often misses chances like I do… we should get to have our time.

Another performer, another performer, all talented, all ready, all safe… The crowd cheers at the end of each one. I tap a foot to the beat of each song, hearing the different qualities in each voice, some sweet, some beautiful, all worth my time.

I want someone to think that when it’s my turn.

The bell rings when my friend and I start our song. The crowd is already starting to disperse. I hate that they all have to leave, that they don’t stay to watch, that I’ve missed it—those three-minutes that had seemed so important earlier in the day… just gone.

It’s the timing in the end, I’m thinking to myself while I sing. It’s the timing that messes with me every single time, yet I can’t do anything about it. I’m a pushover, like I said, and I’ll take things as they come.

Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t do that. If I could only fight for what I want, perhaps I’ll get what I want.

But I have to learn to do that.

I see the faces of those who stayed to watch. It has dwindled a lot from the crowd just minutes before. But I have to take what comes and deal with it. Those few who stayed are listening, and they’re watching and, in some cases, they’re smiling.

Some of my friends leave for class, and I guess it’s important, and I’m glad they stayed at least a minute… Three minutes I’m given, but without the circumstances I had longed for.

And it is all about the timing when it comes to the idealized moment, but here, in reality, able to see those who actually care to listen, to be late to class in order to listen… Knowing that there is appreciation for me is enough for now.

My time in the spotlight has yet to come.

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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

bltsoccerchick said...
Oct. 31, 2011 at 1:16 pm
This piece is really good! You capture the emotions very well but I would have described the surroundings a little more. Maybe that's just me though. Very well done- keep it up!
purplemango This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 30, 2011 at 10:51 am
I like how this story speaks... it really seems to come truly from the heart.
Good job!
Emiri said...
Oct. 29, 2011 at 9:54 am

I liked how one wuality of the narrator was evident within the whole story- her push over ness. Or his, but I'm guessing it's a her. I felt bad at the end; those friends of hers should have stayed, in reality, but in a book it gives substance. I like it. :)


KatsK This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm
It's a her. It's her personal experience, so . . . and yes, I think it was well done as well.
Kvothe28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm
I really like your voice throughout the story. I also kind of forgot I was reading, which only happens when I'm reading a book that is interesting and flows. =) five stars.
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