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When I was about eight or even nine years old in third grade, I started taking guitar lessons. I was super excited to start practicing and playing. I thought that I could be a famous singer and guitarist. One can only hope. I wished I would be more famous than anyone I knew, which was not a lot of people at the time.

Then, I sang to myself and strummed randomly. I mean, one can really hope. The house I took the lessons at was two stories and kind of small; I can’t remember all of the details though.

The lessons took place at this lady‘s house. The lady taught me to play guitar. I remember the windows—big, pretty ones with plants kind of all over them. I also remember sofas, chairs, and bookshelves full of books. The lady was really nice. Whenever I was early, we would just sit and talk, or we would even just get started. Meanwhile, my mom was super excited that I decided to take guitar lessons.

She was so excited because she always wanted to learn how to play guitar. I also wanted to play the guitar, and now she gets to listen to me play! That is something we still have in common.

Although I thought that learning how to play guitar would be easy and no work at all, ignorance is bliss. That is not the case. It took a lot of patience and focus. At first, my fingers hurt, but eventually they started to get calluses. That made playing the guitar more natural for me. When I actually started playing, I thought it was too much practice and work. I did not have the patience and focus it took to play the guitar.

Then, I decided that I wanted to quit and not do all the work. That made my mom a little sad. Even though she urged me to continue, she stated, “If you still want to quit after Christmas break, you can.”

“Fine,” I groaned, counting the days until Christmas break. There were quite a lot of days until Christmas break at that point. That made me a little satisfied either way.

Over the period of time though, I started to feel annoyed and a little bored when I practiced guitar when I thought I had better things to do. It even got to the point where I had to practice in our upstairs living room so that my mom could check our security cameras to see I had practiced that day.

Then, my mom eventually let me drop out of playing the guitar. She asked, “Are you sure?,” “Yes. I am sure,” I replied. “Are you absolutely sure?,” “I am absolutely sure.” I smiled at the persistence.

After a while though, I started to feel embarrassed and ashamed for dropping out of guitar lessons. I also felt a lot of remorse and regret. I felt this way because I actually really liked playing the guitar. I really enjoyed it.

That story taught me that if you really want something but it takes a lot of hard work, don’t give up. You keep trying and strive for accuracy trying to get the best possible outcome.

It connects to being American because a lot of people just give up or don’t do something when it starts to get hard or work is involved—although a small fraction of us do the work when it is thrown in our paths.

© Lilyanna Smith. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.