According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of regret is to feel sad or sorry about something that you did or did not do. In high school, I quit the violin. This blog series is about my journey to resume playing. The first installment is my college admission essay, written in 2003.
I had been practicing the entire night, over and over again. My hands ached with pain from holding my instrument. Playing the violin, was second nature to me just two years ago, has now transformed into being extremely arduous. It was even a bit difficult for me to remember the names of the notes. The very next day I was going to have my seating audition in the orchestra. Being nervous about how terrible I might sound, I had devoted a great deal of time to practice during the past several weeks. When the time came for me to play my audition in front of the class, I was not as apprehensive as I expected I would be, but I was still feeling uneasy. My audition felt as though it ended in two seconds. After I finished playing, I could hardly remember how I had sounded. My performance could not have been too bad, because my orchestra teacher smiled and said "good job." This reassured me that all of my effort must have paid off.
The violin was a way to express my character and feelings without words. When I began to play the violin in fourth grade I knew right from the start that I was going to stick with it. I loved playing, I played with a strong, loud sound. I felt the rhythm inside of me. It was effortless for me to focus on the notes. Being so absorbed in the music, I paid no attention to what was being done or even being said around me. Eventually, I signed up for private lessons, which gave me the individual attention that I needed to succeed. A few years passed, I began to emerge into a talented musician. I played with a loud, powerful sound that could take over a room. In seventh grade I was selected to be in the "advanced" orchestra with the eighth graders, which was a huge honor. Playing in concerts, competitions, and recitals, I started to accumulate numerous certificates and medals. I enjoyed the feeling of receiving awards for playing, it made me feel good that I was getting an award for something that I loved to do. Occasionally, I attended concerts of the local symphonies. Seeing these accomplished musicians perform, making a living playing their instrument, motivated me tremendously to continue playing. I thought perhaps, I too could one day be on stage with them.
I had been playing violin for six years, the thought of quitting never crossed my mind. It would not feel normal if I was not practicing, taking lessons, or performing. When I entered high school, I began to feel that my violin career was not as satisfying as it had been in the past. I dreaded practicing, and sometimes didn't practice at all. I told my parents that I wanted to quit. They did everything in their power trying to convince me to continue to play. Unfortunately, I was too immature to listen to their reasons and therefore made one of the most regrettable decisions in my life. If I had stuck with it, who knows how my music would sound now.
My senior year of high school I made the decision to play again. I put all of my determination to develop into the musician I once was. Although, it has been discouraging at times. Playing the violin will always represent my spirit of accomplishment. I look forward to performing my senior solo at the completion of this school year. That solo will be the reflection of how far I have come.
Melanie Bates is an attorney based in Washington, D.C. She has a passion for criminal justice reform and believes that poverty, lack of education, and other social issues should not feed the pipeline to prison. Through consistent advocacy, she desires to alleviate the factors that force many people to become a part of the criminal justice system. The views expressed here are her own.