- This blog post was written by Sarah Lundgren -
In my first blog post, I talked about how I was a major, full-time band geek in middle and high school.
And during my days as a flautist, I auditioned for countless symphonies, philharmonics, honors bands, honors orchestras and flute choirs.
And honestly, I think I failed more times than I succeeded.
I would spends months preparing for auditions, and I can still remember the pit in my stomach as I awaited the results. I would search for my name frantically on a list, or obsessively check my email, or text my friends to ask them if they had heard anything. It was a feeling of anxiety that I haven’t gotten as much since I stopped playing, and it’s one that I will never miss.
But the feeling of realizing that I had failed was much, much worse. It felt like I had let myself down. It felt like I was openly and blatantly being told that I was not good enough.
I hated it. Throughout the course of seven years, it brought me to the brink of quitting more times than I can remember. And I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a contributing factor in me quitting band when I got to college. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t take the yo-yo of being temporarily happy for succeeding (i.e. getting into an ensemble) and then feeling the crushing defeat over being rejected.
I was weak in that way, and though I am relieved that I don’t have to experience that feeling nearly as much anymore, I am glad that I got used to it.
It was always jarring, and the sad feeling (and the many tears I shed) never lessened or went away. But I learned a lot about continuing on even though I felt like I was never going to get better.
Because often times, I did get better. And after the sadness cleared, I was usually incentivised to get better, to make it the next year, to keep going and to prove myself wrong.
I learned so much more from my failures than I ever did from a weekend spent at a band clinic or a yearlong symphony. I learned that if I wanted to, I could get better. That it wasn’t because I was bad, but because others had better auditions than me, or worked harder than me, or were more advanced than me. And if I really went after it, I could get there, too.
And eventually, I did. Eventually, I made the ensembles I wanted and played in orchestras that I really sought after.
I only quit when my priorities changed, when getting back into lessons and re-auditioning did not look as appealing anymore, when I was doing this for other people and not myself.
I know that I’ve applied this same mindset to other aspects of my life at Carolina. If I get a worse grade on a paper than I thought I was going to, I just work harder on the next one. When I got rejected from an embarrassing number of internships, I kept searching and applying (and I got an amazing one!!).
Failing and getting rejected hurt(s). I hated the feeling then and I hate it now. Everyone does, I know I’m not alone. And I know that I’m going to be rejected again (and again, and again, and again…)
But if I could bestow a piece of advice to anyone who is scared of being rejected, or was just let down on something they really wanted (knowing that I’m largely trying to reiterate this to myself!), it would be this: don’t quit trying. If you really want it, and if you really think you deserve it, you will get it eventually.
Sometimes it isn’t a no, it’s a not yet.
And you don’t even know what is hiding behind that “not yet.”
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.