The Story of How Growth Became My Core Value

If there is anything to know about me other than the fact that I want to be a teacher, it’s the fact that my core value is growth. It is one of the only things that I actively think about every day, and it influences all of my decisions. Ironically, the story of how I started to value growth is because one of my teachers brought it out in me.

7 years ago (I feel so old for saying that), I was a freshman in high school, and I decided that I was going to join percussion. In 8th grade when we were signing up for classes, my friend asked me to because they were scared of being the only girl in the class. I said that I would because I had played instruments all growing up, why not add another one? A few months later, band camp happens, and I pick up my first pair of drumsticks. To say that I was awful is an understatement. A 5-year-old was probably better than me. I had no rhythm, I could barely read music, I didn’t even know how to hold a drumstick, I knew nothing about percussion, and here I am entering a marching band. For that season, I was on auxiliary, which is basically a bunch of random percussion instruments where all you have to do is to try to keep a beat. I struggled with that. Thank goodness, you could not hear me in the stands because it was a mess.

I hated being so terrible at percussion. I hated that I felt like I was the laughingstock of the marching band and that I was disappointing my friend. The one percussion she asks to join percussion is the one person who hands down the worst musician to ever walk into the marching band. I felt guilty. Since I did not want to be awful, I practiced every day for at least an hour. My percussion teacher noticed that I would always be working my butt off just to try get slightly better at the easiest percussion instruments. He would cheer me on every day. In my first percussion, I had no idea what a flam was, or what a paradiddle was, and he showed me. After that lab, I went home and did those 2 exercises for like an hour each. I would send videos to my friend asking if I am getting better (I had no concept of that), and what I should be doing to get better. My friend would show me. By the next time we had lab, my percussion teacher was impressed because I went from not knowing how to do a flam to doing it pretty well. He gave me a high five and it felt good.

Midterms roll around and I have to do a series of rudiments. I got the easy ones because I was still atrocious at percussion, but I was getting better. Looking back, this conversation was definitely one of the ones that had most impact on the person I am today. Anyways, it’s now late January and I was talking to my percussion teacher. He told me how much I’ve grown and have gotten better since late August. It was a night and day comparison. He noticed the amount of effort I put into percussion every day, and he applauded me for it. He told me how I blew his expectations out of the water for this midterm. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I remember being appreciative of him saying that to me. I remember feeling good and proud of myself.

After that conversation, I realized that I like getting better at things. I like working hard and progressing in things. It was after that conversation, that I started asking myself how I can be better not just at percussion but in every other aspect of my life. I started making decisions and choosing to be around people who I felt were good influences on me and bettered me as an individual. I valued that experience of bettering myself, and that is called growth.

Growth is the process of trying to become the best version of yourself possible. I believe that in order to grow, you have to leave your comfort zone, make mistakes, reflect on, and learn from them. It’s why I am not scared of failure because I know it will help me grow. The challenging times are the times when you grow the most. At least in my experience. That conversation made me feel good about growing in percussion, and it encouraged me to grow in every other aspect of my life. It started this positive feedback loop in my brain, and now here I am talking about it.

To that percussion teacher, thank you. You gave me a value that is a central component to who I am as a person. I hope you’re inspiring more students to grow wherever you are.

Kathryn DeBois

@dayswithdebois on Instagram

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