Off my chest

As I sit here and realize that the gap between the time I left high school and the present is steadily increasing, I can successfully look back on situations and actually learn something from them. Nifty, I know. So here is a story for y'all. Something that, as said above, I need to get off my chest. And because the other star of this story is gone off serving the Lord (as he is definitely a better human being than I am), and due to the fact that no one reads this anyways, I know I am perfectly safe in posting this- not that I care if he sees it because I am the one that looks like a whiny brat and not him. So, here goes feelings and stuff.....

Once upon a high school girl's existence, I was a junior. It was the closing of the school year, and I was about to become a senior. Previously being 4th chair in Symphonic Band and playing 2nd clarinet, I was preparing for the upcoming auditions. Once I began realizing what was coming, I got a little freaked out. If all went as it was projected to be, I was to become first chair clarinet the next fall. I began to take the audition a little more seriously than I had past auditions. But come audition time behind the Timpview curtain 'o love, I still bombed it because let's just face it, I'm a horrible auditioner. Bottom line period.

However, when the chair assignments were posted, there I was: first chair in all it's "glory". I was officially section leader and first chair. Everything I had been working for since initially picking up my clarinet at age 10 had paid off. I mean, doesn't every clarinetist (or musician at that) want to be first chair their senior year in high school? I wanted to lead my dear clarinets to victory and that was what I planned to do. But this experience for me was like becoming drum major all over again.
Like really though, I got real freaked out. Do you know the caliber of first chair clarinet music that the Timpview High School Symphonic band played under Dr. Fullmer's reign? INSANE. That's what. And I wasn't good enough or ready for this responsibility. I will be the first to tell you that.
So, I picked up the phone, and called Miss Emileigh Norling. I needed lessons and lessons was what I was going to get. I started immediately.

And I learned SO MUCH in my lessons. Sure Emileigh and I fooled around half the time, but the other time was spent gaining more knowledge than I had ever  had in my clarinet span of life. I had never had lessons before this and it was an eye opener as to what I had been missing. My embouchure improved, my technique tightened, scales and sight-reading abilities skyrocketed. Life was good. I started working on an incredibly hard solo. I remember thinking I could play anything that was put in front of me. I wasn't scared of the black on the page anymore. In fact, I welcomed it with open arms and an attitude that I could use to conquer Hitler. Yeah, I was that hardcore.

Fall came and there I was, sitting in the first chair with my best friend Nick right next to me. There wasn't a semester of Symphonic Band that we didn't sit next to each other. With our new clarinet section of 2011, we were going to conquer the world. And that my friends, we did. Fall semester was GREAT! I was pretty happy with everyone's contributions to our section. We played Second Suite in F by Holst. I will never forget the concert where I got to play my first solo. Unforgettable. Then fall semester ended. That's when everything changed.

Christmas break came....and ended.....and with that came my last audition of high school. I did the normal routine - as much as I had prepared myself, my audition was just average. The new seating list was to be put up by DF during the basketball game while the pep band was playing. I, however, had yet another ballroom competition and had to leave early before the list was posted. Later that night after I got home, I checked my phone, and I found a text from who else but my band pal, Jared Larkin:

"I'm really sorry. Are you okay?"


I'm sorry, did I miss something? 

I also got a text from Nick who said something along the lines of, 
"Nicole, I'm sorry that it's like this. I didn't want it to be like this. I hope this doesn't change anything between us and just remember it will always be Nick and Nicole forever!"

Do you know how many texts I got from other friends just like the one Jared sent me? Too many to count on my fingers, that's how many. 

Okay, I don't know about y'all, but it sounded like I went through some nasty break-up. I was so confused. I go to a ballroom competition for 3 hours and all the sudden the world comes crashing down and people are treating me as if my family died in a car crash. I'M NOT HARRY POTTER PRE-ELEVENTH BIRTHDAY OKAY. 
The greatest part is this was on a Friday and I had the whole weekend to ponder what these texts could possibly mean, because no one was being helpful and informing me.

The next week at school was a bit awkward. I saw for myself what they were talking about. There, upon the corkboard in the band room, under the name of Nick Walton, was none other than that of Nicole Hopkinson. UNDER, my friends. Under. 

Well, okay. No big deal. I was second chair. Who cares? And most importantly, why was everyone making such a big deal out of it? People were defs treating me different and for what? Second chair? These people needed to get over it. I mean, I  had already gotten over it. Fullmer did this all the time, switching the first two chairs at semester when they were about the same playing level and both seniors. NO. BIG. DEAL.

I honestly was fine. I REALLY WAS. Until people talked to me about it, that is. 
"Are you okay, Nicole?" and 
"Are you sure that list is right?" and 
"Well I  think you're a better player."

I couldn't take it anymore! I started dwelling on it and thinking and analyzing why it happened that way. Because that's what I do- I analyze everything.
Was my audition really that bad? Was Fullmer disappointed in me? Why would he really put Nick first chair and me second? Everyone knew we were neck and neck on the clarinet, but didn't he know that overall, I was the better player? I was taking lessons for crying out loud - if not once, but TWICE a week. I even payed for them myself and managed to scrape up the cash when I had no job and no money. Nick wasn't taking lessons. Did he know that Nick didn't even audition for All-State when I had made it in? Was it because I was in ballroom as well and I devoted myself 98% instead of the desired 100%? Did he know that I practiced like a beast in independent music study while Nick fooled around and went to lunch early? Did I need humbling? Well I needed humbling only because he had placed me 2nd chair; up until that point I didn't!
What was his reasoning?

It bugged me. But the fact is that I let it bug me. I thought I was okay about it. But the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I resented Dr. Fullmer's decision. My biggest desire was to march up to him in his office and demand to know why in the world he thought that was okay. I'm ashamed to admit that now, because that was not how I should have handled the situation. dang natural man. Let's just say that this wasn't one of the proudest moments in the life of Nicole.
My mom helped me think out the situation and eventually talked me out of confronting DF. I didn't get to play the solo in Elsa's. I didn't get to play the solo in Children's March. I didn't get to run sectionals. I wasn't technically section leader anymore. I felt like I was a failure to my section. I lacked confidence in myself and it ate at me until I snapped at people about it, murmuring under my breath. It began to affect my playing, and I even took my anger out on Nick. This experience should have made me work harder to prove what kind of a first chair section leader he was missing, but I gave up and stopped trying. It wasn't the best decision I've ever made, but it was a learning experience. Then DF told us he was leaving Timpview. After a couple weeks of pondering this impact, I wanted nothing more than to get the truth out of him before he left us. I couldn't decide if I was going to or not. Because did I really want his last memory of me to be whining, wanting to know why he didn't place the entitled brat as first chair? No.

So, to end a long story, did I ask him? No.
Do I know why I was put second chair? No.
Do I care? No.
Am I okay with that? Finally, yes. I am okay with it.
But, in a certain weird way, I do know why I was second chair.

I can't really write it out in words, because you see, you wouldn't understand. But the best I can do to explain it is to say that whatever the real reason behind this whole learning experience, it might have been for me, and it might have been for someone else. I've learned recently that sometimes the things we go through aren't always for us. There might not be something for us to gain, and we sit there thinking, "Heavenly Father, what in the world was I supposed to learn from this?" A lot of the times, we'll never know, and I think we just need to know and be satisfied with the fact that it helped someone else.

After looking back on all this and writing this post, let me try to use an example to help you understand.
When Harry Potter wasn't made prefect his fifth year, he was at first shocked. He initially came to terms with it, but I think it still secretly ate at him until he finally was told by Dumbledore why he wasn't chosen. The reason I like to think about more often is that it gave Ron a chance to prove himself and shine. It in no way downplayed Harry's abilities (it was only Harry that could do that to himself), but instead allowed others to succeed and progress. Now, in no way am I comparing my charming personality to our dear, fictional Harry Potter, but that's how I came to understand my own experience.
"You may, perhaps, have wondered why I never chose you as a prefect? I must confess . . . that I rather thought . . . you had enough responsibility to be going on with."

So basically I the only way I can cope with life is through Harry Potter analogies and pretending every situation I go through is as dramatic and world changing as his. But seriously, it's now that I realize that it's the situations like that in my life that were never even in the first place remotely important. While experiencing the emotions I felt at the time this was all going on, I told myself, "Nicole, in a couple months, this won't be a big deal, so why are you stressing out about it now? CALM DOWN." I really did try. But it wasn't until after the fact that I realize how trivial this whole experience was. I'm a little slow, okay? 

When I didn't get into the BYU marching band, at first I told myself it was okay. NO. BIG. DEAL. But then, unfortunately, it all played out like the situation above. It was only a couple, short months ago when I finally came to terms with the reality and wasn't mad at the world for not getting in. Not because I actually wanted to get in, but I wanted to prove that I could  get in. There was absolutely NO reason why I shouldn't have been accepted. None. (At least that's what my mom told me and she's supposed to support me like that ;). Dr. Fullmer even said himself that he would have put me in had he still been assistant director. But, the thing in, he wasn't still the assistant director. That's how life played out. And even though I see now why I wasn't in the marching band for MULTIPLE reasons, maybe it was because some other unsuspecting person was sent a tender mercy from Heavenly Father and they needed to be in the marching band at that time. He knew I didn't need to be in the marching band to be happy. He knew I wasn't supposed to be first chair. And such a wise father He is for knowing that. 
He knows what is best for us and what is best for us, He WILL give unto us.
I just forget that.... a lot.....

And that's all I have to say about that....