When I was 9 years old, I wanted to learn to play the alto saxophone. Most of the other kids in music class were going to choose flutes or clarinettes, or just join the choir. I however, had my heart set on the saxophone. I begged my parents for days to get me my very own, until I was informed how much my beloved instrument would cost. We settled on a rental. I named that beloved saxophone “Saxy”, and believe me, she was sexy. Probably half of my height, beautifully gold, and she sparkled so brightly under the fluorescent lights of the gymnasium where we rehearsed. I loved everything about that instrument, except the fact that I was slightly horrible at playing it.
I was frustrated. I loved playing music, and I even practiced at home, despite my parents’ begging to stop the sound of several cats being strangled simultaneously. I continued onwards, practicing with all of my might. And eventually over the course of a year, I got better. I’d go as far to say I was semi-decent. Not to brag, but I even got a solo during one of our concerts. It was my time to shine, to showcase my love for Saxy and all of the hard work I put in. I’ll set the scene: a poorly lit gymnasium filled with metal chairs. In those chairs sat parents, grandparents, siblings, and the losers that couldn’t play instruments. My name was called, the song was announced. And let me tell you, I bombed it. I messed up a few notes, and when my parents greeted me excitedly at the end of the show, I couldn’t contain my tears. And there lies, God rest her soul, Saxy. Not to mention my future career as a jazz musician.
I never played the saxophone after that night, and not to say I stay up constantly dreaming about what could have been, but sometimes I get mad at my younger self for giving up so quickly. I knew at 9 that I’d likely never be a professional musician, and I can confirm that theory at 19. However, I also know I gave up something I loved just because I didn’t classify myself to be “good enough.” Those words are tossed around casually, but it’s really quite sad to think that at such a young age I gave up something I was passionate about solely because I failed once, and knew that I would never be the best.
Although I don’t have Saxy anymore, I still carry the lesson she taught me. I don’t care about being the best, I care about trying my best. It’s cliché, but I do try to apply Saxy’s wisdom to all aspects of my life. I am no longer afraid of failure, but instead it’s the thought of missed chances and opportunities that trouble me. If you’re a horrible singer, sing as loud as you can. A self-proclaimed artist that can barely draw a stick figure? Maybe don’t make a career out of it, but never quit something you love doing. With the stress of college work and our impending future careers, it can be easy to push hobbies or passions to the side, especially if you believe you’re not “good enough.” Some people spend their entire lives searching for something that they love doing, so if you found your passion, please don’t let it go. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to hunt for a saxophone on eBay now.