By Halden Lin
Summer Youth Leadership Program
As a musician and a person who experiments with various forms of art, including photography and sketch, I can say that there’s so much potential in art, especially for teenagers like me. Performing with an orchestra or hanging up a photo is a rewarding feeling not found anywhere else, and the very process of learning and improving is an experience I think everyone can benefit from. There’s a lesson of dedication and collaboration that can be learned by taking part in the arts. You learn how to work with people, to share ideas, and to connect through those ideas.
You also acquire patience while waiting for that stunning sunset to present itself, for the first layer of paint to dry, or for the conductor to finish working with the French horns. There’s also the dedication of practice, practice, practice that you can take with you so far in life. I love music, and I’m happy for that because I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s part of me and I think has had a pretty big impact on my view on life.
“How do you do that?” a fellow SYLP member asked me. I was left dumbfounded. I had offered to play the violin for his singing act for a show we were putting on at a senior living home. It took me a while before I realized a lot of my friends here just didn’t understand how a classical instrument works. It made me sad because it reinforced my feelings on the exposure to the arts that so many youngsters lack these days.
With the help of our parents, the competitive nature of today’s evolving society almost forces us to take strict academic courses in middle and high school while focusing on a multitude of extracurricular activities to strengthen our records for when the time comes to apply to colleges. The movement toward STEM education doesn’t help either, pushing funding away from learning that isn’t encompassed by math, science, or technology. The result is that a lot of the things we’re doing in and out of school aren’t even for our enjoyment, we do it because we think colleges like those things, and we know that getting into a prestigious university will mean success later on in life. Because of this, I think we’re missing out.
I’ve listened to many speakers in my time so far at SYLP, and yes, this is a leadership program, but a point being driven home over and over again is that of following your dreams. One of my favorite speakers, Samson Lim, the Executive Director of Scholarship Junkies, inspired me in all sorts of ways. His amazing story of perseverance was mind blowing, but what he had to say about the concept of success I think is a brilliant way to look at life. He explained that success is not measured by the amount of money you make or the job you hold, but rather by the joy you can take from doing the things you love and living life the way you want to. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you do.
So the point I’m trying to make is this. Don’t be driven away from what you love because of a standard set upon you by your peers, your parents, or the society around you. Be willing to try new things: take up an art class, play around with a camera, pick up an instrument, go for the unknown. Who knows? Maybe you’ll hate it; maybe you’ll love it.
But no matter what, you’ll learn something. Potential can only be discovered, not lost. Go for it. (end)
Halden Lin is a sophomore at Garfield High School.