Two years ago, on this very weekend, I made one of the better decisions in my life and started marching tuba for Jersey Surf.

Yeah, I get comments ranging from “Hey, I saw you on the field last year! You were the tiny one!” to “Do you mind if I stuff you inside your tuba?” 

I did it because I wanted to prove myself. I did it because I was afraid.

My first camp, I fought to find the correct way to pick up that tuba. By Saturday night, my right wrist was completely black and blue…only a few patches of pale unbruised skin remained. I had to ice my wrists and hands at mealtimes. 

Apparently the staff never thought I would make it.

Two years later I am stronger than I could ever have imagined. I can power through pain, exhaustion, and extreme duress to a degree that surprises me, and still look good. I have proved that my body contains not only a convienient low center of gravity but also a potential for serious upper body strength, despite the fact that I will never be the size of an actual normal person.

I’ve learned to believe in myself, to know that there is truly not a single thing I cannot achieve if I give everything I have. I’ve learned that I can never again let fear keep me down, that I alone have the power to shut it away. I’ve learned that if you just go for it, if you just put yourself in the midst of the battle and fight for your right to exist, you can’t ever go wrong. 

That shy kid who struggled to pick that tin can off the ground in March 2011 grew up and I guess I’m kind of proud of who they’ve become.

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