Saturday, August 3, 2013

Band Camp 1/2: The Introverted Captain

Sorry for not posting yesterday. I was exhausted.

This past week has felt really, really long. This summer, once I gave up looking for a job (this failure still rankles), I lived a mostly solitary existence. Solitary, and congenial. I’d get up around 0830, write for a few hours, practice euphonium, read, fence, work on Python projects, go on long walks, write college essays (not so congenial), water my neighbor’s plants…a quiet life perfectly suited to this introvert.

Then, this week Band Camp began.

First of all, getting up early has never been my strong suit. Second, I went from talking to less than five people per day to interacting with many human beings for over four hours at a time. Third, I have never before done anything near as emotionally stressful as captaining a team.

I should explain myself. Captaining a team means, first of all, choosing your people. Then it means deploying those people, making sure the newcomers feel comfortable and valued, balancing personalities, keeping morale high when you’ve just slipped from first place to third to fourth, explaining a simple maneuver to the kid who just doesn’t get it without losing your temper, encouraging people to participate, cheering people on in drilldown, giving short pep talks every day when you’re getting consistently third in every single compulsory (note for non-band people: marching formations/sequences executed by teams of 8-16 people), and coming home and crashing because you are just not used to taking care of anyone besides yourself and you are starting to doubt your ability to grow into this role that your hero the Trombonist made look so easy.

I can say fairly that I have gone through character development this week.

Wednesday was my nadir. My team had fallen behind, I’d turned the wrong way in both a demonstration and in drilldown, and I had blown out my lip after only an hour and a half of playing. Like a nightmare of sophomore year, the lower brass was getting yelled at to play louder song after song. Nightmare: because I wasn’t good enough.

So as I am wont to do, I went home and wrote the filth out of my veins. I realized I was envious of two people whom I actually think are awesome, because they’re better versions of me. I realized that I have always been the sidekick; always been in someone else’s shadow. Last year, being a co-captain was nothing new: I was the Trombonist’s loyal backup. Well and good. It’s easy to be the lancer when the hero is the Best Person Ever. When the hero is an actual hero.

This year, I am a captain. My name is first on the roster, people expect me to know what I’m doing, and - gods, what a terror - I have to inspire people. And I’m pretty damn sure I’m not the hero type. If anything, I fit the villain mold.

Through my writing on Wednesday I realized: I get angry at other people when I have behaved poorly/not measured up. I also realized that I underestimated the difference between co-captain and captain, and that I was letting my shock beat me up.

After Thursday we fell to fourth, or last, place.

Strangely enough, that made things easier. The average is not something with which I am comfortable - the hanging-on, the iffy, the let’s-cross-our-fingers, the unthinking maintenance of one level. The underdog, though, the losing team ready to make a comeback - that is something I can work with.

We made up a lot of ground on Friday. We’re losing our best marcher but we’re gaining another good one. We are poised to dominate regular drilldown. We are in last place but the teams have never ended the first week this close. We are down and we are not out.

After all, it is my team (she said as possessively as possible). I am the captain, Captain Evil Villain of the Frosties, and I am an introvert. And it is, as they say, always the quiet ones you have to watch.

(Hopefully when I post next week I won't have to eat my words. -grimace-)

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