Writing 101, Day Four: The Serial Killer
Today, write about a loss. The twist: make this the first post in a three-post series.
Beginning college was the most natural and happy thing to happen to me at age eighteen. I got to go to my “dream school” and move away to a big city to study music on scholarship, the one subject I had always loved and excelled in. If how talented I was in music could be demonstrated by a weather pattern, my skills would have made the sun shine every day and scattered double rainbows across the sky, it seemed. I won awards, trophies, played in selective auditioned honor bands across the midwest, and had held the position of principal clarinetist and section leader at my high school ever since sophomore year, meaning I got the solos. I was excited to take my musical career to the next level and couldn’t wait to see where it would take me.
I was so confident. Poor little Leslie, I think, as I look back on myself. The trials to come… Brace yourself, little heart!
But I didn’t brace myself. I thought I was the bomb. I was not prepared to hear otherwise. I hadn’t thought about the fact that upon entering a four-year college, I would be a measly freshman swimming with the big fish. I fearlessly companioned my upperclassmen peers and made friends with everybody that fall, carefree and cool. I talked the talk and I walked the walk and I thought I was the same as everybody else, sharing in the super power that is making beautiful music.
Then that feeling. That heart crushing, stomach sinking feeling. Mine happened to drag on for a good three and a half years.
It started with the Honors Recital. I had played in every single auditioned recital I had ever tried out for before college, and at my small Christian school I not only expected to be in the Honors Recital, I was planning on it. I was not attending Julliard, after all. It wasn’t even a conservatory. I would get to be in this little recital.
But I didn’t. The morning the roster was posted, my name wasn’t on it. Excitement turned to heartbreak, and I left the music office as fast as I could without making it obvious I was hiding my tears that came on fast and hard.
Outside the music building, I walked through the wind and sobbed quietly with my head down all the way to my next class. On the roster, it looked like everyone in the piano studio had a place in the recital but me. Why was I the only one left out?
That next class was the only one I have ever walked out of so blatantly, embarrassingly unable to get myself under control. “I have to leave,” was all I told the confused professor at the front of the room as I walked out the door with my stack of books.
That was just the beginning. Over the course of my college career, I would receive a failing grade in concert band, have a professor tell me that I would have to change my personality in order to be a teacher, and never get called on in a class of three students.
The professor who never called on me would use my assignments as examples of how to fail at what he had asked us to do. He once put my composition assignment up on the piano and played it with every error I had included and then smashed his fists up and down the keys, handing me back my paper with no remarks on it whatsoever. For a recital program mock up assignment, he returned my homework to me in front of the class proclaiming, “This is not a program.” He eventually called me into his office to tell me, “If you perform in life the way you perform in school, you won’t get any dinner.”
You are a zero. You are a nothing. Your name is not worth calling on in a class of three.
My confusion over my struggle in school was paramount. I tried so hard. I had experienced such success in high school, why was it not working anymore? Junior year was my most painful, and senior year I decided that since my efforts weren’t being recognized, it wasn’t worth doing my best anymore. My confidence and zeal were completely crushed. I did what it took to pass senior year and graduate.
College certainly did not go as I had planned.