“Living Life With Less Fun”

Grace - Northbrook, Illinois
Entered on October 8, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

It was waiting in the corner, lonely for a human’s touch. With its grandeur and beauty, it beckoned me to sit upon the shiny, unoccupied stool. When I stroked my fingers over the ivory keys, a latch unlocked in my brain and memories of my childhood came stampeding through. I remembered the seemingly endless hours I spent confined to the piano against my will. Growing up as a kid, I hadn’t understood what I was getting out of all the tortuous practice. Now, after many years and new realizations, I believe in discipline. I believe in working hard at the most tiresome things. It is through this process that we are able to produce our greatest character.

Since I was a kindergartener, my mom had forced me to practice the piano everyday. It was thrilling at first to flawlessly crank out “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Gradually however, every day became an inflexible routine. I would skip back from the bus stop, pigtails bouncing, Barbie in hand, just wanting to be a kid. When I came inside, my mom would instantly come in to spoil my fun and push me into the infamous living room. Naturally, I would kick and scream or try smooth-talking my way out. Nothing ever worked. My last resort would be to appeal to my dad. Seldom did he say much. The one lesson he did engrave into my mind was, “Grace, you have to learn that it’s not all about having fun. You have to work hard at everything in life, not just the things you want to do.”

My father’s stern words taught me that even if it is hard to have discipline, the process of training oneself through hard work really does pay off. My mom gave up on her dream of me becoming a musical prodigy years ago. Yet she still pushed me to practice because she knew the values it would teach me. I am by no means an extraordinary pianist. Playing an instrument hasn’t made me unique. Regardless, I would never take back the lessons I learned along the way. I could have easily given up and adopted the approach to life that if I don’t want to do something, I simply don’t have to do it. I used to be someone who measured the worth of an activity by level of enjoyment; someone who thought things should never be forced upon anyone.

People think that the definition of discipline is a strict set of rules or a form of punishment. But the piano instilled in me patience, obedience, and self-control. These qualities have since influenced every aspect of my life. Sometimes I contemplate how much more satisfying a nap would be versus studying for an exam. Would I be happier if I spent time hanging out with friends instead of working? Probably. But these days, I won’t throw a tantrum if my fun is ruined. I don’t mind the sacrifice anymore. I know that I have to be responsible and do things I don’t feel like doing. I believe that building discipline helps us become better people in the long run.

The other day, my roommate laughed when I said I was staying in to practice the piano. “You’re such a nerd. Come out and be social with all of us tonight.” she teased. At that moment, I envisioned my mom there scolding me “No, you have to practice.” But as it turns out, she didn’t need to be there. I pushed myself to go. At first, I felt frustrated and my skills were rusty. Note by note, I began to form a real melody. My hands and mind pieced together all the years of learning. As I was playing my favorite piece, Mozart’s Sonata No. 14, I realized how much my attitude had changed. In those few precious moments, I knew that all the discipline along the way had been worth it.