I’ve been enthralled and determined to play music since the second grade. In the third grade, I was finally allowed to play violin at school; the following year, I could pick up a wind instrument instead, settling on the clarinet. In middle school, I would dabble with the trombone and return to the clarinet in high school, when I would also start learning the electric bass.
The same year I started college, I joined a band–Wallace–with my best friend, Koa, and his friend Tony. At the beginning, I felt like nothing but a replacement for the bassist that left–a man of far greater talent with far greater experience than me– and never having had any confidence in myself, I was intimidated, resentful, insecure. I was still new to the bass, having only played it for about a year and a half by then, still struggling to wrap my mind around what it meant to be a bassist with the backbone of the song on your shoulders as opposed to the running, trilling clarinet lines I was used to, a problem that my band mates tended to point out to me constantly.
Hell, there were a lot of times I wanted to quit the band even. I was never sure if Tony really liked the band or if he was just there. Koa and I would fight about lyrics constantly as my writer-self tried to take control. I always felt like the weak link, the one least practiced on my instrument. But if there is one thing stronger than my insecurity, it is my stubbornness. I refused to quit, preferring to stick to the band until it’s slow demise.
Instead of slow decay, there came a blossoming. From a mere bud, Wallace has begun to blossom into a strange little flower, with a distinct personality all of its own. But the most amazing thing was not that Wallace began to blossom, but that I did as well.
I grew out of that intimidated, resentful, insecure little girl into a confident, no-bullshit, brave young woman who is ready to change the world. I have become more socially-outgoing because of the duties being in a band requires (if you actually try to make it work that is), gaining friends and connects that have helped me when I’ve needed it. I’ve created a never-ending project for myself to continuously work on and grow with, increasing my overall productivity. I learned how to collaborate creatively within a team, working out the smallest details together until we have all agreed to a compromise. I’ve learned to take rejection and criticism gracefully, using it not as an excuse to stop playing, but instead as an excuse to practice more with the intent to impress later. I have even landed an internship under the very fine Dan Vado at SLG Publishing and Art Boutiki recently, an unbelievable opportunity that I’m sure I will look back on with nostalgia and appreciation many years later.
But more than anything, Wallace has made me brave. It has made me do things I never would have done otherwise, like walk up to a perfect stranger just to tell them you loved their music, or Facebooking every last one of your friends about the amazing show I have coming up. I’ve sent out dozens of emails asking for a stage to play on; I’ve done my best to create offbeat marketing strategies; I’ve dropped every ounce of brainpower, sweat, and time I could into Wallace, and it’s paid me back more than I’ve given it. Even if my band is still a small local group, I have learned skills joining a band that I’ve never learned in the workforce or school, skills that contribute to my success in all aspects of life.
I suppose the point of my story is don’t be afraid to chase the dreams that seem impossible, because the likelihood is that they will make you a better person just because you’re chasing. As Bob Marley once said, “If you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never go anywhere.”