What It Feels Like to Stop at Nothing

By Ian Gugel // As Told to Jacob Leitza

Jacob Leitza

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They say that fortune favors the bold.

For me, that is great news, because for better or for worse, I’m probably one of the boldest people I know. Anyone who’s known me could tell you I’m just about as extroverted as possible. Anything you would associate with extroverts, I’ve got it: loud, argumentative and occasionally annoying. But aside from just being loud, I’m also highly involved in my school and community. Most of what I do, I’ve done since freshman year or even earlier. Whether it be drumline or soccer, I’ve had plenty of time to practice my skills and make sure I’m as good as I possibly could be by the time I reached my final year of high school; however, this year I took a decidedly different approach to how I spend my time.

I was left wanting more out of life by the end of last year. I knew I was leaving high school in a year and hopefully entering the Air Force. I wouldn’t have as much time to do the things I love as I do now. I didn’t want to look back, be it 20 or 100 years from now, and regret not experiencing all that life had to offer me. Entirely by accident, I ended up finding just the right thing to try.

Before this year, if you ever heard me sing, chances are I would be singing “Your Man” by Josh Turner. I never thought I was really that great at singing; I only thought it was fun hitting all of the low notes. One day, some of my friends in band had me sing the song to Mr. Untch. Then Mr. Untch had me sing it to Mr. Hickey. Somehow, I don’t know how, Mr. Hickey actually ended up liking it enough that he offered me a position in A Capella, Antioch’s highest level choir. Being someone who’s never really sung before, I thought he was joking, so I just laughed and didn’t think about it again. A few days later, Mr. Hickey came up to me at lunch and asked if I’d talked to my counselor about adding A Capella to my schedule, and since I hadn’t, he told me that he had actually already had her add it for me. From that moment forward, I was officially a choir kid. To be completely honest, I was pretty nervous. What if they didn’t accept me and I was just the annoying loner? What if I couldn’t sing as well as Mr. Hickey had expected me to?

All those what ifs melted away as soon as school actually started. I didn’t suck at singing as much as I thought I would, and the choir kids were unbelievably accepting of me and have been so supportive of me as the year progressed. I continued to become more and more comfortable with singing. I started to get less nervous when I sang in front of other people, though I still get those butterflies in my stomach, I definitely have loads more confidence than I did before joining choir. By the time January rolled around, I had let some of my choir friends convince me to audition for the musical and it started all over again.

This time, not only would I have to sing, but I would also have to dance and act, two other things I’ve never really done. I worked a lot on the music, but I didn’t expect much going into it. I mean, why would I get a part when there’s all of the people that have done the musical for years auditioning? To my suprise, I actually got a named role, so now I have to work even harder to make sure I don’t let the people down who believed in me enough to give me it, and because I know there are other people who practiced just as hard or even harder than me and didn’t get a role. I don’t necessarily like to think that if I get a part I’m “beating” someone else, because that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m not trying to break everyone down and become the ultimate choir kid, I’m just trying to have fun. I would love it if everyone who auditioned could have a role with me, but sometimes hard decisions just have to be made. I’m just lucky that they’ve gone in my favor.

Maybe I am just really lucky that everything has worked out in my favor. If fortune really does favor the bold, then I would be one of the luckiest people out there. But no matter how hard I try to make it seem effortless, I do put in the work to get where I am now. In my mind, nothing I do is just a product of playing the odds, it’s a result of the hours of practice I put it that most people don’t see. Sure, I play varsity soccer, but I also spend all summer running and making sure I’m as strong as I could be for the season to come. Sure, I’m not scared of public speaking, but it’s taken me years to find the right things to say. Obviously, trying new things is an essential part of life, but it’s important to play to your strengths. Find what you’re good at and work it until you’re great, then you have a great chance to succeed. Fortune may favor the bold, but even more importantly, it favors the self-knowing and well-practiced. You’ll never know if you don’t try.