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.
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