Re: STEP Creative/Artistic Endeavor Reflection
12 September 2017
The STEP Signature Project that I pursued was an artistic endeavor, entailing a summer spent touring, competing, and performing as a member of Drum Corps International’s (DCI) Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps. This experience maintained a duration of 3 months, lasting from May 20th until August 12th. It fostered not only my physical growth and athletic propensities via intensive training, but also my mental and emotional growth through high-demand assignments and expectations of staff members.
There are many aspects of my self-understanding that were transformed in response to my involvement with the Boston Crusaders, but the ones that seem to stand out the most are the changes in my view of perseverance and desire to retain mental engagement. Going into the competitive season, I held a disposition that tended to easily resign when things became too complicated or tasking. The events and experience of the Boston Crusaders 2017 season transformed my value in striving to be the best I could be, both in performance and out. Hand-in-hand with the initial fear of pushing myself to achieve higher standards was the absence of determination to stay mentally and emotionally capable. Through personal trials, failures, and successes, I summoned the motivation that I had previously lacked, which maintained my positive outlook for the duration of the summer.
Drum corps instructors and staff members have exceedingly high expectations of their students before the DCI season even begins. If I had upheld my self-deprecating approach to challenges I had to face, I would never have overcome them or even come close to the standards which had been set for me by staff and even older and more veteran members of the Boston Crusaders. Of course, changing my attitude did not happen overnight. It took weeks before I no longer had to solely try to motivate myself; soon enough, my self-determination became the core of my mentality. Had it not been for the bars set by my instructors and role models within the corps, I may still have had the same “oh, well” temperament as a result of not desiring to rise up to the challenge.
Once I established a sense of urgency, I had to learn what it meant to keep a positive outlook and remain committed so that I did not readopt my prior viewpoint. Within the activity of drum corps, it is common for members to fall victim to a temporary mental weakness dubbed, “hitting a wall.” This is a time during which students typically have regrets about their decision to not stay home for the summer and willingly sign up to go through painstaking and over-tiring training entailing 3 months of sleeping on gym floors and buses. As soon as a member hits a wall, it oftentimes takes days for him/her to overcome it and get back into the groove of his/her exhausting schedule. I envision it as more of a well than a wall. I have experienced hitting a wall so high and so difficult to rise above that I felt more like I was drowning than climbing. Getting out of this well proved to be one of the most complicated tasks I have ever faced because of how mentally and emotionally draining it was. However, I overcame my wall/well dilemma with pure optimism and perseverance, virtues I gladly give credit to my [at the time] seemingly devastating experiences for obtaining.
The final occurrence of my STEP Signature Project that I recognize for its transformation of my values and self-understanding is an injury I endured leading into the last two weeks of the DCI 2017 season. While we did not know what it was at the time, MRI screenings following my return home revealed a femoral stress fracture, a fairly uncommon injury that the doctors found I had sustained the last 14 days of my project. Rehearsing and performing on my leg was excruciatingly painful and I had medical staff on tour constantly tending to my needs in order to get me to the end of the season in one piece. Due to my newfound self-determination and grit, I found it within myself to push through extreme physical pain and the desire to give up, despite having an injury that could possibly be detrimental to my long-term athletic competences and health.
By the end of the season, I changed in ways I otherwise would never have expected to if not for my experiences during the course of my STEP project. Such transformations as these are so essential to one’s maturing and stepping into the world as a full-fledged, competent adult and member of society. My gain of appreciation for my own determination and desire to achieve greatness will foster my growth in professional and personal areas of life. These attributes are key to being in healthy community with others and reliable as a working person and responsible citizen and friend, and I cannot give enough recognition to STEP for catering to my transformation and inspiring me to take great strides into my future.