A leap of faith: New experiences bring risk, reward

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Growing up means stepping into new roles.

For example, summer in Kenai means fish and anything related. This explains the scrubby fishers, along with their slimy boots coming into Carrs for a quick bite after an over shift.

Many teen-agers work in fisheries commercially, for private sites or the canneries. Last summer this was my destiny, too, for summer employment. The frigid, boring slime line called my name, so a friend and I worked up the courage to dig out the buried rubber wear and hand warmers.

Besides learning to wear three to four layers and to drink coffee, I soon realized that even in such a miserable, rank place, good can derive -- in all forms.

I never expected to meet people I liked talking to, or even related with. After hours cleaning fish guts, you get to know those around you, and the work is almost not so bad. There's always a few bad apples amongst everyone, but those insightful few you also meet make the experience worth it.

Remember long ago when mom and dad sent you off to camp as a youngster? Your suitcase and backpack would be all packed and ready to go, but your stomach opposed leaving. The first few hours were awkward, but when you got set in your cabin everyone opened up, and the thought occurred -- camp might be fun.

By the end of the week, you were dreading pickup time and you had accumulated all your new friends' addresses to write to. When you returned home, you begged them to let you go again next year.

On a more recent personal note, being part of "The Sound of Music" has proved to be a most sensational and illustrious event in my life. There's something about being in a play or musical; it's like a separate world from the one we live in every day. It's a place where all participants can step out of real life and enter a fantastical realm to let loose, meet unforgettable friends and perform as somebody other than yourself.

I love theater and dance, but was fearful of trying out for a part. It had been years since I set foot in a play on stage, and I didn't know if things would be the same. I was right about one thing -- it's not the same, but better. Now that I'm older, I am able to appreciate the effort, time and generosity of people in the show. It takes more than 100 percent from everyone, but we did it, and the performance will vouch for that.

After our last Sunday presentation, when every nun, Nazi and von Trapp child steps back into their own lives, we all will have a connection from long hours and late nights. It's a tightknit friendship that developed from spending so much time together.

Some of my favorite memories come from stepping out of my comfort zone and making a leap of faith. Doing so provides the chance for new and exciting experiences. I think what makes an experience best is if it is unexpected. People like to be pleasantly surprised; it's what makes life a joy to go through.

Life after graduation, whether it involves college or any new career, promises to be an uninhabited land for us with fresh beginnings and surprising events. But those who have gone before us say it can be the most fun and best time of people's lives. There's no doubt I am scared to head out on my own, but I don't think I am the only senior who feels this way.

It means making all my own decisions and hoping they are the right ones. The kids I've grown up with since elementary school won't be there to observe, check up and help me out when I need a close friend. But they also won't be present to judge, chaperone or critique all my mistakes.

My one regret from high school is not being more outgoing. Not all ventures may be positive, but the irreplaceable memories will stick out more than the not-so-fun times.

In the future, I challenge all of you, and myself, to try something you've never done. Step outside your comfort zone and make a move. Trust me, it's worth it.

Shamra Bauder is a senior at Kenai Central High School who has worked as an intern at the Peninsula Clarion.

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