A scene from my experiences that I look back on fondly was the moment that I learned how to conquer my nervousness when performing learned skills in front of an big audience. In my school, for Black History Month, we celebrated by having performances of poems, dancing music and speeches by both students, and faculty of the school. I was one of the people performing, and I would be performing the 3 minute ragtime piece titled Maple Leaf Rag, published in 1899 by Scott Joplin, an African-American composer. What brought me to that moment was me taking the time to learn complex melodies at home with my old keyboard 61 key keyboard. Of course, with there not being enough keys, certain melodies that required a larger range of key-playing were off limits. After a while of inconsistently showing interest in playing the piano, my parents finally agreed to buying a complete 88 key digital piano, fully-weighted keys and all! With access a larger range of octaves and keys, I practiced more songs, varying in genre, and became more confident in my playing.
About a year later, in my senior year of high school, even though, I didn’t take a music class I took interest in the school’s music classroom, and its mechanical upright piano. Because it was the end of the day, and the room was empty, I decided to play some music on it, both to examine the way it sounded, and for fun. Thinking no one from the other room on the other side of the hallway could really hear me, or really paid attention, I played it, and though it needed to be badly tuned, the ragtime song that I played on it still worked. After finishing the song, and being unaware of any real audience, I was surprised to hear applause from the music teacher and two other teachers from neighboring rooms. The music teacher told me that she was impressed with my performance and asked me if I wanted to perform for Black History Month on her behalf, since she wasn’t going to be able to attend and hadn’t put anything together for her students. Reluctantly, I accepted, mostly because it’d feel wrong to just sneak into her classroom to play music, and then decline when asked to perform. But, even though I was confident in my ability to retain the songs on my own, there was still some almost irrational hesitance regarding my confidence with recalling it flawlessly in front of a large audience. As the day approached, I got more and more nervous about it.
Then came the moment. After about a week and a half of practicing with the goal of making sure I couldn’t possibly mess up, the moment finally arrived. Behind me and to the left of me was an auditorium teeming with around 150 students, in front of me was the auditorium’s in tune upright piano, and underneath me were the pedals to the piano, and although they didn’t work, they weren’t really needed for the song I was playing. The air in the room was really warm, but I wouldn’t know if it was really that warm, or it was my nervousness making it feel that warm. I was still nervous, and even though I practiced the song I had already mastered every day for about 10 days, the feeling in my thoughts that I might still mess it up was still present. It felt like there was still a sizable chance that I might mess up in the middle of the song and forget what came next. But telling myself that even if I did, I would try my best to get back on track helped in a way. When the hosts of the performances introduced me, I felt the adrenaline and pressure hit me, but instead of being overly nervous, when I played, it was almost calming knowing that my nervousness, and the adrenaline was helping me stay sharp, and not messing up the piece. Getting closer to the end, I started to feel more and more content with my playing, and when I finally finished, it felt like the weight of nervousness that accumulated from this performance was lifted off me, and I felt a wave of the feeling of accomplishment. From that point, I had finally learned to trust that when I’m in the moment of applying skills that I spent time learning and refining, the sense of pressure wouldn’t always impair my ability to perform, but it can enhance it. Rather than doubting your abilities under pressure, you could look forward to it helping you stay sharp in the moment that it’s there.
February 7, 2019
I am in my high school auditorium having a good time with my friends. Its 1:30 because I usually skip this US government because if I go I end up falling asleep anyway. If you deeply inhale you can smell the pizza the school has been serving every Friday for the last 50 years. I feel comfortable and happy that I’m hanging with my friend but at the same time I feel guilty for not going to class. I look around and see multiple people crossing through the auditorium wearing the gym outfit trying to get to the C-Gym. Then there’s those multiple group of friends just like us who didn’t feel like going to class.
Why is class so important to me? Why would I feel guilty if I’ve been skipping classes for the last 3 years of my high school? Because this year its graduation. If I pass my classes I get to go to graduation and if I fail I would have to do another semester in high school. Even though I never was interested in going to graduation I still knew inside me that it was a once in a lifetime moment. So why was I not going to class. For two reasons one because I had a bad group of friends around me and the second being my accent.
The reason I hung out with these people is because even through they were a bad influence they were just like me. We all would be going through the something and we could count of each. We all would skip a classis and at the same time and meet and in the auditorium and talk about it. The best part is we didn’t judge each other, and we always helped each other find solutions. The reason we would have skip class is because all of us got out of school at different times and none of us had lunch senior year.
Growing up with my mom teaching me Urdu and only speaking to me in Urdu confused me in a lot in middle school a lot. When I went to school and where we spoke English transitioning from my Urdu to English I developed an accent. Even though I could perfectly understand people in English, when I tried to reply they couldn’t understand me. This limited my ability to speak a lot with my friends, I couldn’t communicate as much and couldn’t participate in activities. The reason I’m telling you this is because in high school I didn’t have a heavy accent, but the point was that even when you don’t have the accent no more it’s the fact that having it makes you uncomfortable at times.
What was the point of coming to school? What’s the best way to make money if I leave? What can I do to change my habits? What can I do to boost my confidence? Questions I would ask myself everyday.
Dr. Carrie hall
Rough Draft Essay
Coming from a small island into this big country with so many moving parts it was very intimidating; not to mention attending school in America for the first time. School where I come from was basic and very religious. We had our own stuff that made it fun, however when I watched TV as a kid, school is America just seemed like so much fun. So, it’s my first day of school in America and I was super excited. I walked it in not knowing that uniform was require because on tv they never wore uniform. I met my teacher and to my surprise he was also from a small island as well, so I wasn’t as nervous, because he was kind and welcoming. I walked into the classroom and the first thing I said to myself, in my head was, “this doesn’t look like what was on tv.”
I took my sit next to the radiator with my back facing the window and sitting next to me was a young lady by the name of Kadijah. Kadijah loved to talk, a lot, but she’s not the point of the story so moving on. The teacher got in front of the class and began to teach math, my favorite subject by the way, and then he asked a question. Me, being me and knowing the answer to the question, I raised my hand with no hesitation. He called on me and I answered. Instantly I felt different. It wasn’t because my answer was wrong, it was because it didn’t dawn on me that I was different from everyone else until I talked and didn’t sound like my fellow classmates. I didn’t have an American accent.
My brother also started school that same day as me but was put in a higher grade. His experience was very different from mine, because that afternoon when we were talking about how our first day went, I noticed that the way he talked, and his English was different. Again, me being me I said to him “wha you talking in style for.” I said this because to me home was our safe haven, where we all spoke the same way, and I didn’t have to be the orange chip is a bag full of yellow chips, because at home we were all orange chips. However, it seemed like I was the only one having a hard time adjusting, because my entire family jumped down my throat and told me I need to start speaking “proper.”
My family, who mostly speaks the same exact way as me, is telling me that I need to speak “proper”. I knew what they meant by proper, they wanted me to speak like my American peers. Granted my grammar was horrible and to this day still needs improvement, however hearing them use the word proper didn’t sit right with me. It didn’t because to me they were implying that the way I spoke wasn’t right, it wasn’t ok. It made me feel like they forgot that in our home country mostly everyone spoke this way.
Rough Draft Essay
When I was really young I use to have a passion for cars. Thats all I played with and what I always wanted and if I didn’t have my toy cars with me all I would do is cry. I would have all kinds of cars little ones and big ones. My dad actually got me this car that I could ride around the park but it was fun while it lasted until the battery got messed up and that meant that I would have to buy a new one, but it was alright because I was getting to big to fit in it anyways.
When I got a little bit older at like the age of 12 I would actually study cars. I would search up cars and see which ones were faster than the others and I would use up all my time research what car I want when I get older.
Thats where school comes into place because I wasn’t the best in school. I would always fool around in school when I was young. I wouldn’t listen to the teachers and I would do what would only please me and benefit me, but little did I know that all they were trying to do was help me and make me successful enough to get the car that I wanted when I was older. My parents played a major role in my understanding for me to do better in school. My mom would always tell me that when I finish college with my bacheldors degree she would by me a car and I feel as if that keeps me going in school.
When I went to high school I forgot about all of that. I went into high school saying that I was going to pick up my act and do better and make everyone around me proud and not let them down, but what did I do I let them down again. At that time I was even worse. I would go to school but I would cut my classes. Thought that was the cooler thing to do. I made a lot of friends thinking that what they were doing was benefiting me. I would go to class sometimes and I would barely pass my classes. Hanging out with those kids might have been one of my mistakes that I made in high school and I feel was a major role into why I wasn’t succeeding in life. As I went into my senior year of high school my guidance consular told me that if I didn’t pick my act up I would graduate high school and that had to be one of the worst things someone could have ever told me and that is when I really realized that I had to pick my act because I wasn’t going to let my family down.
I feel that the reason that I am continuing with everything in my life is because of my mother. She is one person that has always had faith in me and no matter what I did wrong she would scold at me but would never give up on me. She knows and believes in me to become something successful in life. I still till this day cant thank her enough for doing what she does for me and being by my side. That is why I will always promise my self that I will never let the number one woman in my heart down.
As I entered college I came in with a whole different mind set. I have left all my bad habits behind and I was ready to work and become successful. I feel as if I am mature now and the way I think is also mature. You should work hard and leave the past in the past and just keep growing as a person and you will become sucessful. Then maybe I will get my dream car.
Have you been intimidated by someone in your life before? Coming from an Asian background, it has been really difficult for me to be happy for who I identify as a Chinese American. For a stereotypical Asian family, they are expected to rise above the social standpoint in academics and is known for their dedication to education. A quote from Mother’s Tongue, “Well, these are broad sociological questions I can’t begin to answer. But I have noticed in surveys — in fact, just last week — that Asian students, as a whole, always do significantly better on math achievement tests than in English”(Tan). Coming across that I have given up on education made me realize that there is much more to appreciate in life. For being Asian, specifically an Chinese American, I was expected to highly excel in majority of subjects in school, specifically math. However, I wasn’t able to reach that academic success that is perceived by others if its my family or by peers and teachers. During my middle school years, I struggled with all subjects- even math, that I was given a letter telling me I was in probation. Throughout my middle school life, I struggled a lot in academics that I was even in probation in my 8th grade. I was never a book worm in school, nor did I had passion in learning as it dissipated as I climb the grades. Being yelled by my family, especially my father, for doing terrible in school had changed my in many ways. I even was sent to these programs that are suppose to provide extra assistance to English and math called “Kumon” that was located next to my elementary school. I would always remember being put under a lot of stress to the point I had many mental breakdowns. It was hell to the point that I was told this, “you are unable to leave until you get a 100% on this quiz”. I was there from 4 pm to 6 pm, constantly re-doing this quiz, It was just me and a few others after their closing hours still doing these last parts. I became so frustrated and upset that my paper was covered in tears. Of course I went against my parents for taking me to this program because I wasn’t able to learn anything but constantly failing and not rising through “Kumon” levels. Struggling through elementary school and middle school, high school is where I changed mentally and physically. The high school that I went to was located on 49st, and 9th ave. in Hell’s Kitchen. Going into a new environment, with a lot of diverse backgrounds was very intimidating at friends. But as time went along, I adapted and appreciated the people who I met where I don’t compare myself to other Asians in my class. I had a very diverse group of friends that consist of 1 white, 1 black, 1 dominican, 1 mexican, and me the asian. Many things that happened in my education, was around the time that I arrived in high school, that everything has shifted. Students were encouraged to learn at their own pace because not everyone can learn at the same pace. Though some negatives were classes had to slow down, thus some units in the year has been removed by the teacher. The sense of community that I shared with my peers in high school was more appreciate because I wasn’t worried about my GPA if it was terrible or good. The workload has been decreased from middle school to high school. From my perspective, I always thought the teachers want more students to appreciate life and not constantly going home and doing homework all night long for the deadline due the next day. So I had a lot of free time to hang out with my friends and wasn’t bound to my school. In conclusion, there is more to life that just packing your brain with information that will show you’re intelligent to the social norms. From what I experience that to be smart, is the amount of information one can hold. So people who usually sleeps in class-two my friend’s, still passes his classes with A- or B+.