Working on My Roar: Trying the New Thing

It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you without an update, but who knew just how busy things would get around here? With the absence of posts, I’m sure it seems that I’ve gone from working on my roar to mellowing down to a meow, but I’ve been learning all of the aspects of my new position while exploring Commerce…and elsewhere.

A month ago, I was in Birmingham with the New Beginnings Multicultural Gospel Choir for the city’s 50 Years Forward – Empowerment Week. The choir was there because the mayor of Birmingham invited them to sing in a concert on the Day of Commemoration, and our MarComm photographer, Jared, was there to capture it all in photos. To the choir members, my place was a little less clear.

So…what are you doing on this trip with us?

I was asked some variation of this question a few times during my weekend with New Beginnings, but this first time from the choir’s director—as we all sat fairly quietly, elbow-to-elbow at Dreamland BBQ after a long, cold bus ride—stands out.

The answer wasn’t complicated or profound: I’d be writing a news release about it once we returned, and I’d be tweeting and Instagramming about it while we were there.

Or so I thought.

Let’s play a little game of “Where’s Torie, the writer?”

Sure, I thought I’d be tweeting from my phone as the choir sang, but shortly before their performance, Jared handed me a far fancier DSLR camera to record audio/video. My experience in professional videography is limited (read as: nonexistent), but there’s no better way to “work on your roar” than suddenly having to do something you didn’t expect to do.

And an acute case of nervousness can strike when you’ve prepared, too; some of the members of New Beginnings expressed a bit of there-are-so-many-people-out-there stage fright before it was their turn before the crowd. After a couple of shifts in the lineup of performers and a stirring harmonica solo from Taylor Hicks, nerves or no nerves, the dancing, applause, and shouting from the audience made it obvious that New B did what they came to do. (And luckily, I managed to get audio to prove it to anyone who didn’t have the privilege of being there.)

Before we all departed, alum of the university Frank Turner summed up the experience: “A&M-Commerce, you’ve certainly left your mark here in Birmingham on a very important day at a very important event.”

True. New Beginnings was outstanding. But again, what was I doing on the trip?

I had some downtime in Birmingham to think about the question. I found that, in part, I was there to relearn a lesson and share it. So here it is: With any new experience—be it performing in front of an audience larger than any other you’ve performed for, starting college as a freshman, or beginning a new job in a new state—there is fresh anxiety. But there’s only one important thing to remain cognizant of: the mark you’ll be leaving behind. It’s easier to shake off the inessentials of fear, worry or perfectionism when your goal is clear—even if those around you, or you, are unsure of a moment in the journey.

At Dreamland, the question was what are you doing on this trip…, but it isn’t difficult to broaden that out to the more existential why are you here that keeps reverberating through this A&M-Commerce “trip.” It is the refrain of meet and greets and motivational speeches as well as an undertone of assemblies on what we’re at this university to accomplish. It is the question I see answered daily in news releases about the successes of alumni.

As I step into other roles that are mostly new to me, such as interviewing professors about their research on camera, I realize that part of the answer to the big question will always be to learn. To try and try again because a “very important day” comes every morning. To try and fail or try and flourish, but to always be trying the new thing.