- This blog post was written by Sarah Lundgren. -
If you were to have to depict someone as conventionally “geeky,” what characteristics would you give them? Would they be athletic or academic? Spend their Friday nights going to parties or sitting at home? What extracurriculars would you picture them in?
Don’t kid yourself - you wouldn’t put the character as the star of the football team. We all know that Taylor Swift didn’t sit on the bleachers in a cheerleading uniform to show that she was going unnoticed.
You’d probably put them in band, wouldn’t you?
Well, I sympathize.
This is me as a sophomore in high school. And yes, the smile in that picture was genuine; I loved being in marching band.
I started playing flute in sixth grade, and by the time I was a senior in high school, my life virtually revolved around my instrument. I was in symphonies and flute choirs, I took weekly flute lessons. I had been the drum major of my marching band for two years. The band room was my second home, and my band directors were my favorite teachers. I wrote the majority of my college essays about the impact band had made on me during middle and high school.
I loved it;but when I got to college, I quit.
This change more or less shocked everyone in my life. It’s been two years, and I still get asked about it. I’ll run into someone from my hometown and the conversation will typically go like this:
“So…are you doing band at UNC?”
“WHAT! Really? Why? You loved it so much in high school!”
And I did love it in high school — I still love that music was such an integral part of my teenage years.
Having that sort of creative outlet during some of the most formative years of my life changed me. The community I was surrounded by, the support my family and friends showed me, the work I put into improving — it all made me who I am today.
That’s not to say that music never upset me. Some of my biggest failures came from music. I sometimes went on stage and completely blew it. Sometimes I got in the car after a lesson and cried from my lack of improvement.
But that’s the thing with creative activities: you can’t gain the skill overnight.
As the publishing director of the Superhero Project, I try to remember that. That helping to build a start-up nonprofit as a sophomore in college is going to be difficult. That it can be mentally taxing to constantly think outside of the box.
But then I remember what being involved in the arts has done for me throughout the years — how just sitting down to play my instrument made me a better, more well-rounded person, how some of my favorite role models have come from my musical involvement.
That’s the beauty of the arts. In your failures, you find your strengths. You improve and you learn more about yourself. At least, that’s what my experience has been.
That’s what I love so much about the Superhero Project. If having this creative outlet can help those at UNC Children’s Hospital feel a tenth of the reward that I felt by playing an instrument, we will have done our job.
And just as importantly, if the UNC-Chapel Hill students of the Superhero Project could feel one tenth of that reward, I would be immensely happy, too.
Delving into the unknown is scary and it always will be. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t throw your heart and soul into it and reap the benefits it can bring.
In high school, I did that with music. In college, I’m doing that with the Superhero Project.
Supported by a Robert E. Bryan Fellowship from the APPLES Service-Learning Program, an offering of the Carolina Center for Public Service at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.