The Under Dog & Deja Vu

So, after months of filling out applications, creating portfolios, preparing and making pre-audition tapes, writing essays, and/or going through audition after audition many of us have found ourselves in a specialized degree program. This could be anything from journalism to a fine arts degree to a more academic route such as science or law. No matter what it is, if you are there you probably have some reason as to why you chose to apply. Right?

By talking with friends from high school and other first year students I’ve come to the conclusion that the degrees we have chosen for ourselves are, most of the time, based on our best/favourite classes from high school. The one where you felt you knew everything, where you were eager to compare test or essay marks with your peers. The classes you did not mind attending just because you were so enthralled by the material.

This was pretty much the case with me for both high school and college and right now I am experiencing a sort of ‘deja vu’, as it were. Back in grade 8 I was one of the few people that enjoyed going to music class, that could stand the teacher and I was getting some of the highest marks, not to mention all of the solos in the jazz band. So, why not audition for the performing arts school in my city. It was a no brainer for me. So, I got in and finished my first year but, not without some bumps along the way.

In comparison to elementary school, high school was a huge transition (at least mine was). Where I used to be able to wake up at 7:30 and walk to my school, I was waking up at 6 and taking a yellow bus across the city every morning and afternoon sometimes not getting home until 5. With high school academic courses and advanced music classes I was stressed beyond belief. Pretty much halfway through grade 9, I was ready to drop out and go to my local high school where many of my friends from grade 8 were. I’d hear stories about how easy everything was and the amazing marks they were getting with little to no effort. I’m reminded of the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa skips a grade but then opts out to be a ‘big fish’ in a ‘little pond’. Either way I stuck out the year.

From then on, things were still a little bit rocky but I eventually got into the swing of things. In fact, I joined more bands and eventually became student rep for my class and in grade 12 the president of the school’s music council. With the encouragement of friends, family, and teachers (mostly private music teachers) I was instilled with the idea that I could make it in music, which brings me to the present day.

I came into my program at Humber College with a little less confidence than I would have liked. Having been first wait-listed before finally being admitted into the degree program, I was not feeling the strongest about my ability. It also didn’t help that I knew the caliber of musicians at the school. I just didn’t think they would be in first year…

Now, half-way through my first semester of college, an inner-debate has started. Should I stay or should I go? Will I be successful in this program? Since my inner turmoil has started, I have voiced my concerns to a lot of people including my parents. Like my first year of high school, I’ve resolved to see how the rest of the year plays out and then evaluate my situation at the end. However, this does not change how I feel about my position with my peers. That being the position of the ‘under dog’.

Being in this state of mind, I’ve found that I’ve pushed myself harder than I ever have before and while there has been some improvement I’m no closer to catching up to everyone.

I know I am probably not the only person in my position, and I guess I’m trying to share what I learned through high school. The transition from secondary or the world of work to post-secondary can be huge and extremely stress ridden but, most of the time, it does get better. You just have to give everything a fair chance and you definitely cannot let bumps like mid-terms deter you from continuing your studies. I hate to say it, but that’s just life. Hopefully, at one point or another in your academic career you will find your niche. It might not be in your current program, but you’ll never know unless you give it a fair shot.

And most importantly, if you feel you do not belong in your program because you are behind your peers, erase those thoughts from your mind immediately! Instead, if you ever feel doubtful about your ability but still feel you want to continue down the path you have chosen, remind yourself that you are in your program because you worked for it. You are there for a reason, and you deserve the opportunity to see these years through.

That’s about all for now. Next week I’ll definitely have a lighter subject to discuss! Anyway, happy Friday!

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