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“Okay, in the Soprano section, we’re going to need so7meone to sing the solo,” Mr. Morgan, my Chorus teacher, announced. Wandering eyes glanced around the room, scanning for anyone who would raise their hand. While no one was raising his or her hand, I found myself debating a trivial dilemma in my head: to raise my hand, or not to raise my hand. Before someone decided to do the solo, I gradually lifted my arm up to grab the opportunity. Mr. Morgan locked eyes with mine, and suddenly everyone in the room shifted his or her eyes toward me. Having been put on the “spotlight,” my cheeks flushed a bloody red.
“Oh, good! Alright, just sing one line for me please. Piano, take it from line 48!” Morgan said with delight.
“What?!?” I yelped. Not here, not now, and not without practice. With an attitude, Sasha whispered to me: what were you thinking? You are going to embarrass yourself. Besides, you can’t handle this anyway. I glared at the music sheet on line 48 from “Defying Gravity.” With a staggering, shaky voice, I opened my mouth in front of about 60 people in the chorus class. What have I done? I just volunteered myself to face humiliation every day 6th period in Chorus.
Well, sighed Sasha, there’s no turning back now. And so my lips began moving:
I think I’ll try…defying gravity? And you won’t bring me downnnnn….
“Alright…hmm…great job!” Mr. Morgan said with hesitation. He actually meant Well, we’re going to need to work on that, or something along the lines of I don’t think you’re fit for this solo sorry, just like Sasha told me. I could see Sasha smirking back at me. I hated Sasha. She always had to put me down, and make me doubt myself. I wanted to crawl in and confine myself to a small box to relieve myself from the shameful “performance” I just gave. I knew I wanted to sing the solo, yet I didn’t understand why it was so nerve-racking.
The choir didn’t reach my solo part in “Defying Gravity” until a couple of weeks after I first tried it in class. The song was so melodious. The deep voices of the Bass and Tenor boys complimented the higher sounds of the Alto and Soprano girls. Different tones and pitches clashed into an incredible surge of soothing harmony. Chorus proved to be a haven, somewhere to get away from the stress and intensity of Bronx Science student life. The musical tunes danced in the room, taking my soul into a magical kingdom of bliss.
Then I was struck back to reality.
You’re line is coming up. Be prepared to face humiliation again, because everyone is going to be listening to your weak voice, brutish Sasha reminded me.
“Ok Farhin, remember your part. Are you ready?” I gave him a nodding reassurance, even though I didn’t mean it. Even in a small choir room, my heart pounded faster, harder, and louder. It punched my rib cage, but I tried to calm myself with deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale again. My part was coming any second now: then three, two, one- I opened my mouth and let a huge gush of air into my lungs and sang my line in a jagged manner. I was unsatisfied once again, and frustrated that I proved Sasha right. I have lost in the game of “So you think you can sing.” I began doubting my ability to pull myself together in time for the Winter Concert.
The Winter Concert arrived faster than I had expected. The girl next to me smiled and said I would do great. She said I was an amazing singer, and she was absolutely jealous. I was incredulous, and I couldn’t believe someone actually thought I could sing well. I smiled back at her and wondered if I was good all along, or if it was an illusion that made me believe I wasn’t worthy of the solo. I should have known not to listen to silly things people say because I knew better. I told the girl there was always someone who discouraged me.
“Don't ever pay attention to people whose motives are to put you down. These people try to belittle your ambitions. The best thing to do is to ignore them and say to yourself, ‘Why even waste my breath on them?’”
She was right. It was all about confidence, and taking a “risk.” Whether or not I’m good enough is irrelevant. I wasn’t as nervous as I had been in class, although the auditorium was much bigger and there were far more people there than there were in the classroom. I could easily sing the solo, because I had nothing to lose. I’m going to give it my best shot, I said to myself, I’m going to give it my all.
I was excited to show everyone what I had in store. The inner diva was about to show. I wondered where Sasha had been. Maybe she couldn’t make it to the concert. I was surprised nonetheless, and relieved she wasn’t in sight. The blinding limelight shone on me, and I blew everyone away with my powerful, elegant and strong voice. My voice resonated across the end of the auditorium. The end of my solo, and also the end of the song, was followed by a roaring thunder of applause and standing ovation. Did I just do that? Me? I released my soul into the crowd, because I was confident and optimistic-and because Sasha, the thought in my head, wasn’t there to taunt me. Sasha challenged me, and constantly shot me down-but I had finally won against the conflict within myself. I learned a great technique to prevent Sasha from appearing again. The trick to push Sasha far away from my mind was self-esteem. I could no longer hear her inside me. Even if Sasha was in me during the performance, she was speechless and incapable of stopping me.