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How Taking a Risk at Camp Changed My Life

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Music has been a significant part of my life since I was ten years old. If I had not made the choice eight years ago to be courageous and sing in front of an audience, my personality would not be what it is today. 

Molly Handleman

The first time I sang in front of anyone, it was on a stage in front of three hundred people. I was only ten years old, participating in my first overnight camp experience and trying to figure out what I desired to do for the rest of my life. I decided to take a risk by signing up for the camp talent show to experiment with my possible singing abilities. Once I got up on stage and started to sing in front of my entire camp, filled with people I had just met two weeks ago, I instantly fell in love with singing.  

When I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I became insecure, fearful, and unable to live in the moment. I used singing and songwriting as a coping strategy.  Every time I felt anxious, I would pick up a pencil and start writing down my thoughts and they would eventually turn into a song. I would also constantly sing and listen to my music so that the daunting thoughts of anxiety would drift from my mind. 

Music gives me a purpose. Today, even though I struggle with my anxiety, I am so much better than I have ever been because music saved me from the horrifying anxiety attacks, loss of hope, and fear that I would never get better.  I dream of a career where I can sing professionally and am working hard toward that dream. 

I am so honored to be performing at 18 Under 18 this April. I have sung in front of over 1,000 people and have experience performing at all different kinds of events, but I have never sung in front of a crowd of my peers. I am eager to be a part of a celebration of teens in Chicago and to perform for a crowd filled with people in my generation. 

-Molly Handleman, Junior