Ever since the first nursery rhyme I was taught, I have loved singing. When I felt sad, I had a song for that. When I was angry, there was a song for that, too. Scared, alone, confused, hurt, happy; Every emotion had a song that related to it in my head. Everyone who knows me personally knows that I’m always singing. It is my favorite of all the gifts God has given me.
But then, there’s High School.
Every year, my school has some music related event, whether it’s officially planned or not. Yesterday was one of those days. We were in the Auditorium while about a quarter of the school was taking our big exam, the one we have to pass to graduate. One of our administrators always asks this one question:
“Who thinks they can sing or rap?”
I usually ignore him when he says this, but yesterday I gathered my courage and walked down to the stage. I’m surprised I made it there, my legs were shaking so badly. But I made it to the front, my friends were cheering me on, I felt slightly less anxious; I had friends out in the audience and teachers who had heard me sing before and believed I was good. I was beginning to gain confidence. There was just one detail that I had forgotten.
Every year, the kids (not young adults, but children) at my school pick one unfortunate soul who goes up to perform; they don’t pay any attention to what that person is about to do, as soon as the person is about to begin, they immediately boo that person off the stage. It happened to one of my friends last year, one of my sister’s friends the year before that, and I had decided that I was never going to try to perform in front of my school because I didn’t want it to happen to me. I didn’t want to be that one person who got singled out for trying, but I forgot that yesterday and tied my luck.
I had barely gotten the first note out when the jeering started.
I pursed my lips, handed the microphone back to the administrator, who didn’t care about me because I wasn’t one of his Juniors but a lowly Freshman or Sophomore – he didn’t care which – who thought too highly of herself, and walked back to my seat, getting a weak hand clap from my few friends and the teachers who knew me. But the damage had been done.
I spent the rest of the day with my headphones in, blasting Nicki Minaj’s Marilyn Monroe, not talking to anybody. They had taken the one thing that I knew I could do with little flaw or difficulty, the thing that gave me my largest sense of self-worth, and stamped on it because I was one of the kids they had never heard of, and thus was inconsequential to them; because they didn’t know me, it was okay to hurt me.
As many times as this sort of thing has happened to me, I thought I would be used to it, that it would hurt just that little bit less. But it still felt like a stab in my chest to have someone deny something that I was proud of; to be ignored and shoved to the side because I had tried to step out of “my place” in the sidelines and make a way for myself, if only for a moment.
The pain of being tossed to the side has stuck with me all day, and it’s probably the reason why I can’t sleep now… I can feel the tear there, but they won’t fall. I know that those children aren’t worth it, but I just want the satisfaction of knowing that I got it out of my system without blowing up at someone…
I’m trying to find my way, My Beat. They stopped a Beat today, and I know that if they stopped it, I haven’t finished making that Beat my own yet. Because I know that, once I find it or make it, they can’t stop My Beat.