Remember how I said that Luther seemed to be one of those places that had the ability to mold students into people they never knew they had the capability of becoming? I'm finding this statement to still be true, as I wade carefully into waters that are out of my comfort zone. It is incredibly nerve-racking, uncomfortable, even frustrating at first, to present in front of large class for the first time, to help lead a team instead of following or imitating, but by far the hardest task for me is performing in front of my peers. One of my first weeks at Luther College, I performed at seminar. It was a nightmare, to say the least. My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking, and there was nothing I could do to stop the nerves from coming. Afterward, I was so embarrassed that I wished I could lock that memory in some hidden place and throw away the key. But something about that experience, as traumatizing as it was for me, inspired me to conquer this fear. Everyone else in my seminar seems to love the stage - hardly anyone ever looks nervous. Their natural poise never ceases to mystify me. But this week, when it was time for me to sing at seminar, I came up with a few plans to help me cope with my nerves. First of all, I made sure that I knew my piece like the back of my hand so that even when I got nervous, I wouldn't forget the words or the sequence of melody. Second, before I got on stage, I convinced myself that everyone in the room was rooting for me (which was probably true!). Thirdly, instead of telling myself, "Don't be nervous -- there's no reason to be," I embraced my anxiety with accepting arms: "It's OKAY to be nervous! Everyone else is too!" This way, when the nerves came, I didn't have to worry about calming myself down or panicking that my plan didn't work. With this plan, the performance could only succeed my expectations. I am proud to tell you all that the plan, for the most part, worked! At first I was trembling with fear, but at least I was prepared for it. And with time, and after taking in all the encouraging smiles in the audience, my body calmed down a bit and I was able to get creative with the piece. My goal is to gradually conquer this fear of singing solo in front of others. It will only get better every time I am exposed to it. More news on my improvement to come...!