Anna Mitchell – This I Believe: You Can Never Give Up Your Passion
This I believe: even in your darkest moments, if you have a passion, you cannot give it up.
I started playing violin when I was eleven, in an afterschool class held once a week on Thursdays. I was an awkward child, sitting in the back of my group lessons and never playing loudly or saying a word. I was quiet, but I was also curious: even in my first year I would peek ahead in the book, testing out new strings and notes on my own when the other kids were still on the first few pages. I was just curious about the new concepts, and so I was eager to learn them. I had fun looking ahead in my music book, even if I wasn’t the best yet at the old concepts- let alone the new ones.
However, my enthusiasm didn’t stop me from being a quiet player. I played shyly and softly for quite a while. But I was doing well, and I loved playing in my first concert. I was proud to play violin, even if I was still a beginner.
Then things changed my next year. I was starting middle school, and I was scared. I was already an anxious child, and I knew that I would not see any of my closest friends in school due to the classes I’d chosen. The workload was going to increase. My schedule would change drastically. Even violin would be different- the intermediate class was smaller, and earlier in the day- on a different day of the week now, a Wednesday. And of course, it would be harder. I was even nervous about having to ride the bus to another school to catch my class.
One night, as my mother gave me a hug and a kiss goodnight, I started to cry. “I don’t want to do violin anymore,” I told her. “I changed my mind.”
She was angry. “You can’t stop,” she snapped. “Anna, you have a gift. Not everyone gets to learn violin! You can’t give it up.” I was scared and upset, but she wouldn’t let me quit, and to this day, I am grateful.
If I had given up violin, I would never have discovered something important and so invaluable to me: my passion. As an elementary schooler, I enjoyed violin, but I didn’t love it. As I entered my 7th grade year, I started enjoying music more and more, and I started to improve.
I do not remember the exact moment, but in the eighth grade, I realized something important: that I actually loved violin. I still have that passion to this day.
Violin was not only fun to learn and play, but it helped me grow out of my shell, too. I am still a little nervous about playing to this day, but as my skills improved, I became more confident. I found joy in solos and started to become proud of my skills. I went out of my way to find extra sheet music to practice. I started to practice more on my own, and I found, to my surprise, that practicing alone could be fun. And not only did I play stronger, but I grew a little more confident, too.
And not only did I start to enjoy playing my instrument, but I found some other kids who love music as much as I do. I met one of my best friends in that orchestra. And today, I sit in orchestra next to some of the best people I know in this world, some of my closest friends. Playing violin with them is the reason why Wednesdays are now my favorite days.
I am a sophomore in high school now. I have been playing violin for 5 and a half years, and I am still not perfect, but I’m getting better. I have sat in the back of my orchestra, and I have been section leader, and I have even been concert mistress. I have played in orchestras of over 700, and in ensembles of ten, too. I have auditioned with my trusty violin before, and I have sometimes failed, but I have passed, too. I’ve played quietly on my bad days, but proudly on my good ones.
I still have my dark moments, but these days, I have much more good ones. Some days, I will sound like a teenage Vivaldi, and on some days, I will sound like I’m in the fifth grade again. Sometimes, I even manage to sound like both in one day. But this is okay, because even my worst practice will lead to something great one day, because I’m always improving.
Even when I’m having a bad day, when my notes go flat and my tone sours, I just remember this one thing: I have a passion for violin, and I can not and will not give it up for anything.