Freshman Year was Humbling and It Was the Best Thing for Me

Wagner College Theatre

Wagner College Theatre

  • Genna Leigh Williams

August 2016, I began my journey as a BFA Musical Theatre Major. I did not think that I was the most incredible performer ever to walk the planet, but I felt fairly secure in what my abilities were. Classes started, and I was thrust headfirst into the world of performing... like all the time. My first day in Musical Theatre Lab (a performance seminar-style class) we had to perform a solo of our choice. I heard my peers perform their songs, and one by one, I realized the talent I was surrounded by. When it came to be my turn, I froze. I sang the song, but my throat felt dry, my hands were shaking, and singing just overall felt a lot more difficult than normal. I had never felt this before, and I wasn’t sure what was happening to me. I had never had a problem with stage fright before, so why now?

I remember feeling so frustrated with myself. This was my chance to show everyone what I could do, and I felt like I had failed. I remember one of my classmates commenting after class who she felt her competition was, and I took it personally that I was not on her list. Now my goal was not to be better than my peers, but I had let myself down, and her remark made it clear that she didn’t think much of my abilities either. In the following months, every time I had to perform, I would feel this feeling, and it started feeling more and more familiar. I knew I could be better, but I didn’t feel those around me knew that. I quickly became very discouraged, to the point that I began looking into transferring or changing my major. I decided to give it one more semester, though. 

The second semester of freshman year, I began trying to not focus on proving myself to anyone but me. I stopped trying to impress and focused on my classes, my training, and relying on the skills I was learning. I had come to college to learn, and I needed to give myself the chance to do that. The more I focused on this, the more opportunities opened up, and the more I began to prove myself without even trying. 

Over the course of my freshman year, I learned that I was not that great... on my own. I learned that my abilities were not enough... on their own. I learned that I needed to apply and rely on the technique that I was learning in my classes from professors who had been in my shoes. I needed to stop doing everything on my own and let the people I was paying to teach me do exactly that, teach. In the years since I have come to terms with who I am, and I have continued to grow into what I can do. I know I can trust my training and not stress about proving myself. I was not that great on my own, but with training, experience, and a little more confidence under my belt, I know I have the potential to be.