There are many things that define my life: my love of swimming and theatre, my desire to be with my friends at all times, my inclination to stay up late to finish a good book. My late nights, paired with early-morning workout sessions, mean I drink a lot of coffee, because I believe in waking up.
I live in a musical household. My father is a director and a performer, my mother is a children’s music teacher. I’ve grown up with a love of music and the stage. The second show I was ever in is a show that remains close to my heart: La Boheme. I was in it when I was eight years old, and my father was the director. I thought my dad directing the show gave me the privilege to do whatever I wanted.
The night of the first dress rehearsal, one of my minor costume pieces didn’t fit well, and I wanted it to get fixed right away. I complained and fussed; meanwhile there were performers who had whole skirts missing. I continued to whine, until one of the wardrobe crew members said, “Madi, stop being such a diva! You are not our only concern, and there are other people we need to get to before you. Wait patiently and quietly until it is your turn.”
I remember those few sentences word for word, because they were caffeine. Of course, my 8-year-old diva mind thought that it was an outrage. Who would dare to speak that way to the director’s daughter? But now, looking back, I needed to hear those words. They served as a reality check. In the real world, directors’ kids don’t get everything they want. In the real world, there are too many divas already. Those words jolted me awake.
But not every wake-up call is an immediate one. I remember sitting in the car in the parking lot of the YMCA a few weeks ago. My mother was trying to get me to go to swim practice, but I refused to get out of the car. I was frustrated my coach still hadn’t moved me up to the senior group. I didn’t want to put effort into practice if my coach underestimated me. My mom told me, “You need to learn respect for your coach, Madi. He will move you up when it is time for you to move up.”
I didn’t want to hear it. I replied, “He should have moved me up at the beginning of the year.” But I knew, deep down, that my mother was right. She was trying to wake me up, but I wasn’t ready yet.
I’m now 13 years old. I’m far from perfect. Sometimes it takes me days, even years, to wake up. But without these wake-up calls, I would be in my own, self-centered dream.
I believe in the awakening provided by those words--You are not our only concern and He will move you up when it is time for you to move up. Those words were caffeine for my soul, my heart, my mind. They woke me up. They forced me to think.
I believe in the real world, and not the dream world. I believe in waking up.
Madi Christopher is an 8th grader at The Delta Program in State College.